Judicial Watch Obtains Documents Revealing HHS Plans for High-Level Hiring Surge on Day Obamacare Passed
Records also show that former White House staffer, now president of Enroll America, worked with key House Democrat staffers to exclude Republicans from Obamacare briefings
(Washington, DC) — Judicial Watch announced today that, through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) investigation, it has obtained documents revealing that on the day Obamacare passed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) obtained permission from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to cast aside normal hiring procedures in order to hire 1,814 highly-paid, top-level administrators to expedite Obamacare implementation.
The documents also reveal that former White House staffer Anne Filipic, as president of Enroll America (a nonprofit “tasked with selling Obamacare”), worked with key members of the House Ways and Means Committee to exclude Republicans from congressional briefings.
According to the documents, OPM Director John Berry gave HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Resources Denise Wells extraordinary “direct-hire appointing authority” (DHA) in order to bypass normal channels and, in Berry’s words, “hire quickly” in order to execute the President’s directive with respect to implementing health care reform.” In all, HHS was granted permission to utilize what Wells termed the DHA “valuable human capital recruitment tool” to hire 1,814 GS 13 – 15 employees, including:
- 59 Social Science Analyst/Specialists at the GS-15 level
- 350 Health Insurance Specialists at the GS-15 level
- 55 Administrative and Program Specialists at the GS-15 level
- 235 Program Analysts/Management Analysts at the GS-15 level
- 40 Accountants at the GS 15 level
- 90 Dental Officers at the GS 14 level
- 291 Public Health Advisors/Analysts at the GS-14 level
- 261 Consumer Safety Officers at the GS-13 level
- 92 Grants Management Specialists at the GS-15 level
- 50 Criminal Investigators at the GS-13 level
- 291 Information Technology Specialists at the GS-15 level
According to the Base General Schedule Pay Scale, in 2010, the nearly 2,000 new employees hired to “quickly” implement the Obamacare program would have received between $70,000 and $130,000 per year. More than 1,100 of the new employees would have come in at the GS-15 level, starting at nearly $100,000 annually.
Additional documents reveal that in early 2013, the president of Enroll America, Anne Filipic – a former Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Deputy Director at HHS – worked with then-professional staff member of the House Ways and Means Committee Debra Curtis to organize Obamacare congressional briefings, explicitly excluding Republican House members and their staffs:
- In an email dated February 11, 2013, Curtis wrote to Filipic, “They [House Democrat leadership] want to do another one next week while Congress is in recess that would be open all House Democratic Staff [emphasis added] to start getting folks up to speed.”
- In email dated February 12, 2013, Curtis wrote to Filipic: “I would guess that this would be a well-attended event with upward of 100 people in attendance. We’ll check IDs to be sure we’ve got all Dems coming as well.” [Emphasis added]
Filipic is also at the center of a growing controversy involving possible illegal Obamacare fundraising done on behalf of Filipic’s Enroll America by her former boss at HHS, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. On May 10, 2013, the Washington Post broke the story that in “an unusual fundraising push” Sebelius was pressuring health care industry officials regulated by HHS to make donations to Enroll America. On May 14, Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee sent a letter to Sebelius saying, “Our initial reaction is that this appears at best to be an inherent conflict of interest and at worst a potentially illegal augmentation of appropriation.”
In a follow-up letter on June 27, a group of 28 Republican senators admonished Sebelius: “Article I of the Constitution gives Congress alone the power of the purse. Your agency requested additional money to implement the exchanges, and Congress denied that request. You cannot evade Congress’ Constitutional power of the purse through gifts or donations to an entity that appears to be ‘just an arm of the administration,’ as one health industry official described Filipic’s Enroll America in The Hill.” The House Commerce Committee is currently investigating the Sebelius solicitations.
“Even as the ill-conceived Obamacare law continues to crumble, we are learning more and more about its massive cost to the American people and the shady politics attendant to its passage and implementation,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Our Freedom of Information Act investigation is ongoing, and these new documents raise more questions about the Sebelius shakedown operation to support Obamacare propaganda from Enroll America.”