Enroll America


Introduction


Enroll America is an American nonprofit organization organized primarily to sign up consumers for the health coverage plans that are dictated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – commonly known as “ObamaCare.” Engaging with hospitals, doctors, insurers and pharmaceutical companies, Enroll America’s mission is to sign up as many Americans as possible into President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul scheme.

Critics have suggested that Enroll America is too closely tied with the Obama’s White House – so much so that it presents possible conflicts of interest. Critics have also questioned the legality of the Administration’s fundraising efforts on behalf of Enroll America. Congress has repeatedly investigated Enroll America’s dealings with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

As of October 2013, the U.S Government Accountability Office was conducting an audit of the Administration’s involvement with Enroll America.

In addition to its government ties, Enroll America is also associated with many radical left-wing political special interest groups such as the NAACP, La Raza, SEIU and Planned Parenthood.


History / Mission


Enroll America was founded in 2011 by Ron Pollack, who also serves as the executive director of Families USA, a far-left organization with ties to organized labor.[1]

According to Enroll America’s website, its “mission is to maximize the number of uninsured Americans who enroll in health coverage made available by the Affordable Care Act. Enroll America is a collaborative organization, working with partners that span the gamut of health coverage stakeholders — health insurers, hospitals, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, employers, consumer groups, faith-based organizations, civic organizations, and philanthropies — to engage many different voices in support of an easy, accessible, and widely available enrollment process.”[2]


Work


According to Enroll America, the group helps individuals learn about and sign-up for ObamaCare in the following ways:

  • “We track the latest information on “best practices” for optimizing enrollment and share that information widely.

  • We provide guidance and assistance to help states and the federal government adopt streamlined and user-friendly enrollment policies, procedures, and practices.

  • We work to raise awareness of enrollment options among the uninsured and to broaden the range of channels through which uninsured individuals can enroll.”[3]

In practice, Enroll America goes to great lengths to sign Americans up for ObamaCare. In Florida, Enroll America staff and volunteers are “going door-to-door, talking to consumers at places like grocery stores and community centers, and working with local organizations – like health centers, places of worship, and schools – to get the word out about the new Marketplace.”[4]

All of this assistance from Enroll America occurs outside ObamaCare’s institutional framework since the groups since the group did not receive a federal navigator grant. However, Enroll America still engages with potential health care consumers in an effort to sign them up for the President Obama’s health care plan – just as ObamaCare navigators do under federal guidelines.


Ties to the Obama Administration


Enroll America has close ties with President Barack Obama’s Administration. According to the New York Times, “Enroll America is led by veterans of the Obama White House and Mr. Obama’s presidential campaigns and… use campaign-style techniques to locate the uninsured.”[5] Furthermore, one official who works closely with insurers described Enroll America to a reporter from The Hill as “just an arm of the administration.”[6]

For example, Enroll America’s president, Anne Filipic, is the former deputy director of the Office of Public Engagement for the Obama White House.[7] According to The Hill, many health industry sources believe that the White House “orchestrated” the early 2013 leadership change that placed Filipic at the head of the organization.[8]

Additionally, Enroll America managing director Chris Wyant worked for President Obama as an economics advisor.[9]


Fundraising Controversy


Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has made fundraising pitches and approached corporate executives to solicit donations for Enroll America.[10] The Administration tried to hide this fact. As the New York Times reported, “[a]fter first denying that administration officials had engaged in fund-raising, the department confirmed Friday that Ms. Sebelius had made calls soliciting support from the health care industry, including insurance and pharmaceutical executives.”[11]

On May 11, 2013, Reuters reported that while the Obama Administration had admitted that Sebelius was fundraising on behalf of Enroll America, “HHS declined to identify the targeted donors but said none of the companies are regulated by department agencies.”[12]

Conservatives pundits and members of Congress have criticized the Administration’s fundraising activities as unethical and possibly illegal and demanded more information. On May 13, 2013, the U.S House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee launched an investigation in Sebelius’s fundraising solicitations.[13] In a press release, Committee leaders expressed concern that Sebelius was – despite the Administrations denials – seeking money for Enroll America from companies that her agency regulates. They explained: “HHS is potentially soliciting funds from companies that are simultaneously doing business with HHS… Currently, health insurers are seeking HHS approval to qualify for the health exchanges established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act so that they may attempt to sell their services to the public when enrollment begins in a few months. Your agency also has the power to review the insurance rates that providers wish to charge.”[14]

On May 16, 2013, a contingent of lawmakers wrote to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to request an audit of Sebelius’s activities, noting, “[t]he secretary’s actions show an apparent disregard for constitutional principles and may violate the Antideficiency Act, the prohibition against augmenting congressional appropriations, and executive branch ethics laws.”[15]

In late May 2013, media outlets reported that Sebelius’s fundraising garnered $10 million for Enroll America from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and approximately $500,000 from H&R Block.[16]

Apart from conservative legislators, liberal media outlets also questioned HHS activities regarding the federal agency’s work for Enroll America. In particular, the Washington Post editorial board wrote that “[t]he legal question is still murky. The ethical one is less so. The Post’s Sarah Kliff, who broke the story, reports that at least one official in the health-care industry felt pressure to give money and other forms of support to Enroll America. Given that HHS directly controls the markets in which the insurers operate, we would hardly blame them for reading a lot, even too much, into the secretary’s requests and feeling nervous about them. But even if they didn’t, it would have been easy to expect donations to curry favor with Ms. Sebelius.”[17]

Finally, during a June 4, 2013 Congressional hearing, Sebelius admitted that – in addition to the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and H&R Block – she also contacted Johnson & Johnson, Ascension Health and Kaiser Permanente on behalf of Enroll America.[18] Still dissatisfied with a lack of specific responses to repeated inquiries, on June 27, 2013, 28 senators called on Sebelius to answer very explicit questions about her relationship with Enroll America.

The letter states:

“your agency’s arguments hinge entirely on its claims that two provisions added to the Public Health Service Act in 1976 give the Secretary authority to fundraise for Enroll America. These amendments state, ‘The Secretary is authorized to conduct and support by grant or contract (and to encourage others to support) new and innovative programs in health information and health promotion, preventive health services, and education in the appropriate use of health care….’ 42 U.S.C. § 300u-2. Your agency claims this provision ‘provides the Secretary broad authority beyond that available to other government officials.’ This is an unprecedented interpretation of the statute, and in 37 years we are not aware of it ever having been used to fundraise for a private entity in this manner. No reasonable reading of this language could allow an HHS Secretary to bypass Congressional appropriations and ethics laws to fundraise for any third-party entity that can be vaguely described as promoting health information.”[19]

The letter also revealed that, on May 1, 2013, Sebelius and President Obama attended a meeting at the White House with private foundations to discuss the private sector’s potential involvement with Enroll America.[20]

On June 27, 2013, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) announced it would indeed conduct an audit of Sebelius’s Enroll America fundraising.[21] As of October 2013, GAO had not issued its findings.

In addition to Sebelius’s activities, former director of the White House Office of Health Reform Nancy-Ann DeParle has also pressured corporations into funding Enroll America. While her actions are legal since she now works in the private sector, according to Politico, “the image of an influential former White House adviser, who has also served on health industry boards, approaching a heavily regulated industry for big donations plays into the GOP narrative that the Obama administration will use whatever leverage it can muster to accomplish its political goals.”[22] DeParle refused to comment to Politico about her efforts on behalf of Enroll America.[23]


ObamaCare Rollout


Despite all of Enroll America’s efforts to ensure easy participation in the Obama Administration’s new entitlements, the October 2013 rollout of the ObamaCare exchanges and its accompanying website healthcare.gov, was an unmitigated disaster.[24] The website was unprepared to handle many users, relied on outdated modeling, was generally confusing and sent wrong information to insurers.

In the face of these failings, Enroll America’s president Anne Filipic expressed frustration and confidence saying, “I don’t think that anyone would sit here and deny frustration with what we’ve seen from HealthCare.gov,” adding however, that “[w]hat we’re hearing is that consumers are frustrated with HealthCare.gov, without question, but they remain undeterred.”[25]


Advisory Council


Among the more than 50 groups listed as Enroll America’s advisory council are crony capitalist corporations and far-left advocacy organizations.[26]

The list includes:




Funding


As of October 2013, Enroll America did not have any publicly available tax forms. However, media sources identified that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was able to secure $10 million for Enroll America from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and approximately $500,000 from H&R Block.[27] Furthermore, columnist David Spady – writing for Townhall.com – explained that Enroll America’s “funding primarily comes from special interests and healthcare related corporations who stand to profit from Obamacare.”[28]

Enroll America’s leaders have thus far not been forthcoming about the organizations finances and spending. According to Reuters, in a June 2013 call with reporters discussing Enroll America’s “Get Covered America” campaign, Enroll America’s president “Filipic declined to answer repeated requests for details on the group’s budget. But a knowledgeable source said later that the cost of the public outreach campaign would range into the tens of millions of dollars, with ‘at least seven figures’ going to paid advertising.”[29]


Leadership


Anne Filipic, President (former deputy director of the Office of Public Engagement for the Obama White House)
Chris Wyant, Managing Director (former Obama White House economics advisor)
Ashley Allison, Constituency Engagement Director
Sister Carol Kehaan, Board Member (President and CEO of the Catholic Health Association of the United States)
Ron Pollock, Board Member (Executive Director of Families USA)
Vinny DeMarco, Board Member (President of Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative)
Debra Barrett, Board Member (Vice President of Government Affairs at Teva Pharmaceuticals USA)

Contact Information


Enroll America
1001 G Street, NW
8th Floor
Washington, DC 20001

Phone: 202-737-6340
Email: inquiries@enrollamerica.org

Website: http://www.enrollamerica.org/

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  1. ^ Sarah Kiff, “Why New Health Group Enroll America Matters,” Washington Post – Wonkblog, September 14, 2011, available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/post/why-new-health-group-enroll-america-matters/2011/09/14/gIQAAmGMSK_blog.html as of October 29, 2013.
  2. ^ “About Us – Our Mission,” Enroll America, available at http://www.enrollamerica.org/about-us as of October 29, 2013.
  3. ^ “How We Work,” Enroll America, available at http://www.enrollamerica.org/about-us/how-we-work as of October 28, 2013.
  4. ^ “‘Get Covered America’ Campaign Launched in Florida,” Enroll America – Press Release, available at http://www.getcoveredamerica.org/press/get-covered-america-campaign-launches-in-florida/ as of October 28, 2013.
  5. ^ Robert Pear, “Potential Donors to Enroll America Grow Skittish,” New York Times, May 19, 2013, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/20/us/politics/potential-donors-to-enroll-america-grow-skittish.html?_r=0&pagewanted=print
    as of October 28, 2013.
  6. ^ Sam Baker, “Insurers Feel Pressure from Health Group With Ties to White House,” The Hill, May 25, 2013, available at http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/health-reform-implementation/301471-insurers-feel-pressure-from-health-group-with-close-ties-to-white-house as of October 28, 2013.
  7. ^ “Chief of ‘Enroll America’ Confident Folks Will Stick with HealthCare.gov,” CNN, October 21, 2013, available at http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/10/21/chief-of-enroll-america-confident-folks-will-stick-with-healthcare-gov/ as of October 28, 2013.
  8. ^ Sam Baker, “Insurers Feel Pressure from Health Group With Ties to White House,” The Hill, May 25, 2013, available at http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/health-reform-implementation/301471-insurers-feel-pressure-from-health-group-with-close-ties-to-white-house as of October 28, 2013.
  9. ^ “Obama White House Salaries,” Real Clear Politics, available at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/politics_nation/RCPWHSalaries09.pdf as of October 28, 2013.
  10. ^ Robert Pear, “Potential Donors to Enroll America Grow Skittish,” New York Times, May 19, 2013, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/20/us/politics/potential-donors-to-enroll-america-grow-skittish.html?_r=0&pagewanted=print
    as of October 28, 2013.
  11. ^ Robert Pear “Cabinet Secretary Solicits Large Donations to Publicize Health Care Law,” New York Times, May 12, 2013, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/us/politics/health-secretary-raises-funds-for-health-care-law.html as of October 28, 2013.
  12. ^ David Morgan, “Obama’s Health Secretary Seeks Donations from Companies for Healthcare Law,” Reuters, May 11, 2013, available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/11/us-usa-healthcare-sebelius-idUSBRE94A0BA20130511 as of October 29, 2013.
  13. ^ “Committee Launches Probe Following Reports of HHS Soliciting Donations from Companies it Regulates,” U.S. House of Representatives, Energy and Commerce Committee, May 13, 2013, available at http://energycommerce.house.gov/press-release/committee-launches-probe-following-reports-hhs-soliciting-donations-companies-it as of October 28, 2013.
  14. ^ “Committee Launches Probe Following Reports of HHS Soliciting Donations from Companies it Regulates,” U.S. House of Representatives, Energy and Commerce Committee, May 13, 2013, available at http://energycommerce.house.gov/press-release/committee-launches-probe-following-reports-hhs-soliciting-donations-companies-it as of October 28, 2013.
  15. ^ “Letter from Lamar Alexander et. al. to Gene Dedaro, Comptroller General,” U.S. Congress, May 16, 2013, available at http://energycommerce.house.gov/sites/republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/files/letters/20130516Dodaro.pdf as of October 29, 2013.
  16. ^ Robert Pear “Potential Donors to Enroll America Grow Skittish,” New York Times, May 19, 2013, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/20/us/politics/potential-donors-to-enroll-america-grow-skittish.html?_r=0&pagewanted=print as of October 28, 2013.
  17. ^ Editorial Board, “Kathleen Sebelius Dances on an Ethical Line,” Washington Post, May 18, 2013, available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kathleen-sebelius-dances-on-an-ethical-line/2013/05/18/af480de6-be3a-11e2-89c9-3be8095fe767_story.html as of October 29, 2013.
  18. ^ Alex Wayne, “Sebelius Called J&J, Kaiser, Ascension for Enroll America,” Bloomberg Businessweek, June 4, 2013, available at http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-06-04/sebelius-called-j-and-j-kaiser-ascension-for-enroll-america-1 as of October 28, 2013.
  19. ^ “Senate Republicans Call on HHS Secretary Sebelius to Produce Documents, Answer Questions Related to Fundraising,” U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions – Press Release, June 27, 2013, available at http://www.help.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/?id=24b01af3-aa05-4e55-9593-08345ebd05fe as of October 28, 2013.
  20. ^ “Senate Republicans Call on HHS Secretary Sebelius to Produce Documents, Answer Questions Related to Fundraising,” U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions – Press Release, June 27, 2013, available at http://www.help.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/?id=24b01af3-aa05-4e55-9593-08345ebd05fe as of October 28, 2013.
  21. ^ David Morgan, “GOA Readies Audit of Sebelius Fundraising – Republican Aides,” Reuters, June 27, 2013, available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/27/usa-healthcare-sebelius-idUSL2N0F32A920130627 as of October 29, 2013.
  22. ^ Jennifer Haberkorn and Brett Norman, “Nancy-Ann DeParle Fundraising for Obamacare,” Politico, May 28, 2013, available at http://www.politico.com/story/2013/05/nancy-ann-deparle-obamacare-insurance-91961.html as of October 29, 2013.
  23. ^ Jennifer Haberkorn and Brett Norman, “Nancy-Ann DeParle Fundraising for Obamacare,” Politico, May 28, 2013, available at http://www.politico.com/story/2013/05/nancy-ann-deparle-obamacare-insurance-91961.html as of October 29, 2013.
  24. ^ Michael Shear and Robert Pear, “Obama Admits Web Site Flaws on Health Law,” New York Times, October 28, 2013, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/22/us/politics/obama-pushes-health-law-but-concedes-web-site-problems.html as of October 28, 2013.
  25. ^ “Chief of ‘Enroll America’ Confident Folks Will Stick with HealthCare.gov,” CNN, October 21, 2013, available at http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/10/21/chief-of-enroll-america-confident-folks-will-stick-with-healthcare-gov/ as of October 28, 2013.
  26. ^ “Advisory Council,” Enroll America, available at http://www.enrollamerica.org/about-us/who-we-are/advisory-council as of October 25, 2013.
  27. ^ Robert Pear “Potential Donors to Enroll America Grow Skittish,” New York Times, May 19, 2013, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/20/us/politics/potential-donors-to-enroll-america-grow-skittish.html?_r=0&pagewanted=print
    as of October 28, 2013.
  28. ^ David Spady, “All Aboard for the Obamacare Train Wreck,” Townhall, August 2, 2013, available at http://townhall.com/columnists/davidspady/2013/08/02/all-aboard-for-the-obamacare-train-wreck-n1655364/page/full as of October 29, 2013.
  29. ^ David Morgan, “Enroll America Sets Private Outreach for Obamacare Sign-up,” Reuters, June 18, 2013, available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/18/us-usa-healthcare-outreach-idUSBRE95H16D20130618 as of October 29, 2013.