Judicial Watch • Obamacare

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In its quest to bring poor minorities the same quality of medical care as their wealthier, white counterparts the Obama Administration has launched a “coordinated federal action plan to reduce racial and ethnic asthma disparities.”

As the election nears, the new government task force will show Americans how the president is working to close the racial/ethnic gap on asthma, a disease it claims disproportionately affects minority children and kids living below the poverty level. In announcing the new multi-agency task force recently, the administration reveals that the asthma rates of African American and Puerto Rican children are more than double the rate of Caucasian children in the United States.

Furthermore, poor and minority children are more likely to have asthma and their health outcomes are worse. Black children are twice as likely to be hospitalized and four times as likely to die from asthma as white children, according to the new task force figures. Additionally, asthma is linked to academic performance because 10.5 million school days are missed annually due to asthma.

Thus the need for yet another taxpayer-funded program to help shave the gap. It’s not enough that, under Obamacare, dozens of new “health equity” offices have already been created to end the health disparities between poor minorities and whites. In fact, more than $100 million has already been dedicated to an initiative to help lower chronic diseases “disproportionately seen among poor and minority populations.”

This latest effort focuses strictly on asthma, which may leave some wondering if the administration plans to create task forces for other individual diseases as well. There would be plenty to choose from, according to the U.S. government’s annual comprehensive report on Americans’ health. This year’s edition features an unprecedented section on socioeconomic status that says practically all ailments—from depression to edentulism (lack of natural teeth) to cancer and childhood attention deficit disorder—are more prevalent among poor minorities.

Getting back to the new minority asthma task force, several federal agencies have teamed up with the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to form it. They include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Health and Human Services (HHS) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD). A key factor in the asthma disparity is the “unacceptable burden of pollution” that “low-income and minority communities often face,” the chair of Obama’s White House CEQ said in a statement announcing the task force.

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan says it’s essential that the government ensures all children have a healthy place to call home. “The numbers don’t lie. Asthma disproportionately impacts low-income minority families,” Donovan said, adding that the new task force will help the federal government support the development of “innovative new approaches to improve and control asthma.”

That can only mean one thing; doling out more taxpayer dollars for yet another one of the president’s “innovative new approaches” to assist low-income minorities. This includes a $4.5 billion law—pushed through by First Lady Michelle Obama in 2010—that focuses on conquering childhood obesity among poor minorities who live in “food deserts” that don’t have healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables.

(Washington, DC) — Judicial Watch, the nation’s largest government watchdog group, today sent a letter asking Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan to address the facts surrounding her tenure as Solicitor General and the enactment and subsequent legal defense of the PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), as well as to provide an articulation of her reasoning behind any decision regarding recusal.

Emails previously obtained by Judicial Watch suggest that, during Justice Kagan’s tenure as Solicitor General, the Office of the Solicitor General had been more involved in the legal defense of the PPACA than had previously been disclosed.  Late last year, another set of records were produced that included an email showing what appeared to be then-Solicitor General Kagan’s excitement and support for the passage of the PPACA.

In the letter, Mr. Fitton notes, “The failure of the Justice department to produce requested records in a timely manner, the dribbling out of requested records over time, the redaction and withholding of other records, and the refusal to respond to requests for records and information from several members of Congress have contributed to the substantial impression that additional details about your tenure as Solicitor General and the enactment and subsequent legal defense of the PPACA are being withheld from the American people.  However, [as] the Court ultimately rules on the various legal challenges to the PPACA, it would be extraordinarily unfortunate if the Court’s decision were overshadowed by controversy over your participation in the matter.  It would leave a cloud hanging over the Court’s decision and could undermine public confidence in the impartiality and integrity of the Court as an institution.”

The letter states, “Judicial Watch is not calling on you to recuse yourself from the PPACA litigation at this time, just as Judicial Watch did not call on Justice Scalia to recuse himself from the litigation involving the National Energy Policy Development Group (‘NEPDG’) – to which Judicial Watch was a party – in 2004.  When a controversy arose during the course of the NEPDG litigation over whether Justice Scalia should recuse himself from that matter, Justice Scalia issued an opinion stating:  ‘The decision whether a judge’s impartiality can ‘reasonably be questioned’ is to be made in light of the facts as they existed, and not as they were surmised or reported.”  Justice Scalia then provided a comprehensive recitation of the facts ‘as they existed,’ not as they were ‘surmised or reported,’ and an articulation of the reasoning behind his decision not to recuse himself.”

Mr. Fitton further notes, “During your confirmation process, you wrote that you would ‘consider carefully the recusal practices of current and past Justices’ as well as consult with your colleagues if questions about recusal in particular cases arose.   Judicial Watch believes that it would be of substantial benefit to the Court’s consideration of the legal challenges to the PPACA if, like Justice Scalia in the NEPDG matter, you were to address the facts surrounding your tenure as Solicitor General and the enactment and subsequent legal defense of the PPACA as they ‘existed,’ not as they are being ‘surmised or reported,’ as well as provide an articulation of your reasoning behind any decision regarding recusal.”

Justice Kagan has said that she was not “substantially” involved in the DOJ discussions regarding Obamacare’s constitutional or litigation issues.  The White House, despite repeated inquiries, has refused to confirm to Judicial Watch that Justice Kagan was “walled off” from Obamacare defense discussions while at the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The Judicial Watch letter also references is the lack of cooperation by the DOJ in responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests previously submitted by Judicial Watch for records pertaining to Justice Kagan and the PPACA.

On February 21, 2012, Judicial Watch filed another FOIA lawsuit against the DOJ, seeking access to calendars, schedules, and phone logs for Justice Kagan and her deputies inside the Solicitor General’s office.

“We hope that Justice Kagan will give serious consideration to addressing this recusal controversy, so as to provide greater transparency and increase public confidence in the impartiality and integrity of the Supreme Court,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

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Washington, DC — December 7, 2011Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced it will host a panel discussion: “Justice Kagan, Obamacare and Recusal.” Panelists include Edward Whelan, President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center; Carrie Severino, Chief Counsel and Policy Director to the Judicial Crisis Network; Ronald D. Rotunda, the Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence at Chapman University; and Russell Wheeler, Visiting Fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings Institute.The panel will discuss whether Justice Elena Kagan should recuse herself from the pending Supreme Court case concerning the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
Tuesday, December 13
11 am — 12:30 pm ET
Judicial WatchMain Conference Room
Washington, DC 20024

Confirmed Panelists:

Edward Whelan, President, Ethics and Public Policy Center

Carrie Severino, Chief Counsel and Policy Director, Judicial Crisis Network

Ronald D. Rotunda, Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence, Chapman University

Russell Wheeler, Visiting Fellow in Governance Studies, Brookings Institution


Tom Fitton, President, Judicial Watch

The event will be broadcast live at https://www.judicialwatch.org/live

*(near NASA headquarters, one block from Federal Center Southwest Metro Station)

A mult box will be available.

Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) to obtain documents detailing Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s participation in discussions related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of March 23, 2010, also known as Obamacare, while she served as U.S. Solicitor General to determine if she will have a conflict of interest if the constitutionality of the “individual mandate” in President Obama’s health care reform ends up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Because of similar litigation filed by the Media Research Center, this case was consolidated with Media Research Center v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 10-2013) on April 22, 2011.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 is one part of the controversial healthcare bill passed by the Democrat-controlled Congress and signed by President Obama, and is commonly known as Obamacare. Obamacare’s constitutionality is being challenged in several lawsuits. Judicial Watch has been closely following these lawsuits and has been aggressively pursuing other avenues of investigation and litigation to fully expose and combat this unprecedented expansion of the government’s powers.

Our primary areas of investigation include: the criteria used by the Obama administration to provide “waivers” to companies and unions exempting them from provisions of Obamacare; the Obama administration’s decision to evaluate medical treatments based solely on cost; “death panels”; and the regulation and funding of Obamacare in general. For more information, please take a look at a full list of our Obamacare-related Freedom of Information Act requests and results.

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has obtained three new documents that provide additional information about Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan and the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) while she served as solicitor general. Justice Kagan has said she was not actively involved in the Department of Justice (DOJ) discussions regarding Obamacare. Moreover, the Supreme Court justice did not recuse herself from the High Court decision in April 2011 not to “fast-track” for Supreme Court review Virginia’s lawsuit challenging Obamacare.

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The following are highlights from the documents obtained by Judicial Watch pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed on February 24, 2011. (Judicial Watch’s lawsuit has been consolidated with a similar FOIA lawsuit that had been first filed against the DOJ by the Media Research Center.):

  • An October 13, 2009, exchange between Kagan and former Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal. Katyal informs Kagan, “We just got Snowe on health care,” referring to Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME). (The bulk of the email exchange reflects a discussion about Kagan, and also provides instructions regarding a hiring decision within the agency, although the nature of the position is unclear. When Katyal asks if Kagan wants to handle the hire via email or in person meeting, Kagan responds, “In person. I’ll call a meeting when I return.”)
  • A March 21, 2010, email from Kagan to then-Senior Counselor for Access to Justice Laurence Tribe: “I hear they have the votes Larry!! Simply amazing…” Tribe responds, “So healthcare is basically done! Remarkable.”
  • A March 16, 2010, email from Kagan to David Barron, then-acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, asked if he had seen an article by Michael McConnell published in the Wall Street Journal that discussed a strategy by Democrats to “‘deem’ ObamaCare into Law without voting.” “Did you seee [sic] Michael McConnell’s piece in the wsj?” Kagan writes in an email with the subject line “Health care q.” “YES, HE IS GETTING THIS GOING,” replied Barron.

“These new emails are bound to raise additional questions about whether Justice Kagan ought to participate in High Court deliberations on Obamacare. Certainly, if these documents were known at the time of her confirmation, there may have been quite a different Senate debate. The Obama Justice Department dumped these documents just before a holiday weekend, hoping they would go unnoticed. This slow-walking of documents out of the Obama Justice Department is scandalous and makes one wonder what other information they are sitting on,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

As if Obamacare wasn’t bad enough, a separate “complement” law that will focus on eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities is being pushed through Congress by a coalition of influential minority lawmakers.The measure (Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2011 or HEAA) will save the government trillions of dollars because it will bring “health equity to all corners of our nation,” according to the California congresswoman (Barbara Lee) who chairs the Asian, black and Hispanic healthcare taskforce that introduced the law. It will accomplish this by “building on the historic provisions” of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Lee asserts.If enacted, the equity law will close the gap in care by ensuring “workforce diversity” in all health fields, making “cultural and linguistically appropriate” healthcare services available to people of color and improving the treatment of “high impact minority diseases” like AIDS, diabetes and hepatitis. The measure will also create a new Office of Minority Health at the Department of Veterans Affairs.Passing HEAA is essential because many communities will remain vulnerable even after Obamacare is fully implemented, according the nation’s most powerful open borders group, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).  HEAA will eliminate “access barriers” for immigrants who want to get government health and nutrition programs and will create “community-based strategies that address social, economic and environmental factors that contribute to health disparities,” the NCLR proudly announced this week.Currently people from communities “of color” are nearly twice as likely as whites to suffer from a serious health condition, says one of the NCLR’s health policy experts touting HEAA this week. Yet, they encounter an “inequitable” system with lower quality care. This is partly due to an “increase in racially segregated living spaces” that leave minority neighborhoods with “less infrastructure that encourages good health,” the NCLR expert claims.As a side note, this seems to go hand in hand with the administration’s $4.5 billion effort to bring healthy cuisine to inner-city areas with “limited access to affordable and nutritious foods.” Under that plan, U.S. taxpayers are providing fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk in neighborhoods determined by the government to be “food deserts.” The idea is to promote good health by revolutionizing the inner city diet which consists largely of greasy, fried foods.Back to the minority health issue at hand; Lee, who represents the San Francisco Bay area and claims to be dedicated to “social and economic justice,” is capitalizing on the ethnic health matter. This week she also called on the government to allocate $610 million to a minority HIV/AIDS initiative after calling the sexually transmitted disease the “greatest humanitarian crisis of our time,” especially for African Americans.

In the latest scandal to rock Obamacare, a new federal probe reveals the administration withheld crucial information from Congress about a costly healthcare entitlement program that it knew was fiscally unsustainable.It marks the latest exposé of the secrecy that has prevailed throughout the president’s hostile takeover of the nation’s healthcare system. Last year Judicial Watch obtained alarming documents regarding closed-door healthcare meetings with Vice President Joe Biden, Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Obamacare Czar Nancy-Ann Min DeParle and union officials.Just a few days ago JW made public thousands of pages of additional documents involving the administration’s secretive process in granting waivers exempting companies and unions from inconvenient provisions of Obamacare. As of July 2011, 1,472 one-year waivers and 106 three-year waivers were granted, covering some 3.4 million enrollees, more than half of which belong to unions. Yet, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, union members account for only about 12% of the total workforce.This week’s Obamacare scandal du jour comes from a congressional panel that concludes the administration lied to push a costly long-term care program known as Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS). Internal documents obtained by lawmakers from a committee of House and Senate Republicans reveal officials in Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) were acutely aware that the program was unsustainable and suppressed the information from Congress and the public.The bicameral committee lists its findings in a scathing report that says HHS knew CLASS was likely to collapse as it pushed hard to pass it. While senior HHS officials publicly confirmed that CLASS was solvent, they privately called it “a recipe for disaster” in internal communications obtained as part of the probe. In fact, they had been warned by federal healthcare experts that the entitlement program would likely require a federal bailout or another insurance mandate.CLASS is supposed to provide long-term care insurance, including nursing home payments and in-home nursing care. Benefits are supposed to be funded with contributors’ premiums and not taxpayer money. However, under the current structure, it would need more enrollees (234 million) than the entire American workforce. Internal communications released this week indicate CLASS would essentially require federal subsidies or a mandate forcing all workers to pay into the government’s new program.

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