Drudge Attacks Sebelius For Accurately Pointing Out Health Care Obstructionism

The Drudge Report falsely claimed that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius “scapegoat[ed]” Republicans when she pointed out that political opposition to health care reform has complicated its implementation. Although Sebelius never assigned blame to a specific party, GOP obstructionism has in fact made implementation more costly and more complicated.

Drudge linked to an Investor's Business Daily article which claimed that, in recent remarks to the Harvard School of Public Health, Sebelius “was trying to find a way to blame Republicans for ObamaCare's failures when the inevitable problems start emerging.” Drudge's headline for the article read, “Sebelius Scapegoats GOP For Coming Obamacare Mess”:


But Sebelius never scapegoated the GOP; she only pointed to the “relentless and continuous” politics and state-level opposition as hindering factors:

SEBELIUS: The second thing that probably has been more difficult is just the politics has been relentless and continuous. And I would say I think there was some hope that once the Supreme Court ruled in July and then once an election occurred there would be a sense that, 'This is the law of the land, let's get on board, let's make this work.' And yet we will find ourselves still having sort of state-by-state political battles and again creating what I think is a lot of confusion. It is very difficult when people live in a state where there is a daily declaration, 'We will not participate in the law,' for them to figure out whether there are any benefits that they actually have a right to access and so getting that word out about setting up the infrastructure has been more complicated.

Although Sebelius never blamed the GOP, it is true that Republican obstructionism has made implementation more difficult and costly than it would be otherwise. The Washington Post's Wonkblog pointed out the “incredible burden on the administration” caused by the GOP's “strategy of harassment and intransigence”:

Republicans are working very, very hard to see that the administration gets it wrong. After failing to either repeal the law or get it declared unconstitutional, they've retrenched to a strategy of harassment and intransigence. Republican governors are refusing to set up either the insurance exchanges or the Medicaid expansions. Republican congressmen are refusing to appropriate the necessary implementation funds. The basic idea seems to be that if they can't have this health-care system, then no one can.

That's put an incredible burden on the administration. They thought they'd be setting up, at most, a few of the health-insurance exchanges, with the rest left to the states -- which is, for the record, how both governors and Republicans wanted it. Instead, they're setting up 33 of the exchanges. They thought the Medicaid expansion would be a smooth enlargement of the program. Instead they're in protracted negotiations with governor after governor demanding new and untested reforms as the cost of their participation. 

The Hill reported the health care exchanges are proving more expensive to set up because Republican governors have refused to set up their own exchanges:

The healthcare law did not provide any funds specifically for HHS to set up a federal fallback exchange because lawmakers envisioned most states setting up their own marketplaces.

But Republican governors have largely refused to implement any part of the law; only 17 states and Washington, D.C., have been conditionally approved to run their own exchanges.

HHS will have to run all or part of the operations in the rest of the states.