Sec. Sebelius Tells GOP Rep It Would Be Illegal For Her To Enroll In Obamacare (Updated)

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius repeatedly explained to the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday that it would be “illegal” for her to sign up for coverage in the Obamacare health care exchanges.
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HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius was hammered with a bunch of extremely ridiculous and inane questions from Republicans for the better part of the over three hour House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing this Wednesday, but she did not give a correct answer to MO Rep. Billy Long's question on whether she is eligible to sign up for the exchanges. UPDATE: It seems Josh Barro is incorrect and Sebelius is enrolled in Medicare and is therefore not eligible to enroll for the exchanges. I agree with his point that it should be made clear that it is not due to having insurance from her employer.

As Business Insider's Josh Barro noted, it's an inane question and there are perfectly good reasons that anyone who currently has employer subsidized insurance would not want to sign up for the exchanges, but that doesn't mean she's not eligible. Regardless of how ridiculous or inane the questions, Sebelius still needs to be held responsible for answering them correctly (which it appears she did): Kathleen Sebelius Told Congress She Can't Enroll In Obamacare — And She's Wrong:

Twice, Republican representatives asked her a stock question: If Obamacare is so great, why don't you enroll in a plan through the exchanges?

This is an inane question. Sebelius is both a federal employee and old enough to qualify for Medicare. Asking Sebelius why she doesn't decline the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan and Medicare so she can enroll though the exchange is kind of like asking the Secretary of Agriculture why he doesn't decline his salary so he can qualify for food stamps, if food stamps are so great.

But just because a question is inane doesn't mean you're allowed to give a wrong answer to it. Sebelius did that twice, saying it would be illegal for her to shop in the exchange because she is offered health insurance through work. [...]

In Sebelius' case, opting for the exchange would be obviously a bad financial choice, but other workers (for example, those whose work coverage is very expensive and mostly paid by the employee) might well choose to buy in the exchange. The law is quite deliberately designed to allow them to do so, and Sebelius should know that.

Instead of answering incorrectly, Sebelius should have given the perfectly good correct answer that was available to her. I'll offer a template that she can copy next time she's asked (and she will be asked again):

"The purpose of the exchanges is to offer quality, affordable health insurance options to people who don't get insurance through work. More than 80% of Americans are in situations like mine: They get health insurance coverage through work, Medicare or Medicaid and their best option next year will be to stay on the same coverage. If I weren't insured through work, I would gladly shop in the exchanges. But what I'm doing isn't an 'opt-out': This law doesn't change source of insurance for the vast majority of Americans, including me."

Think Progress has more here: Yes, It Is Illegal For Kathleen Sebelius To Enroll In Obamacare.

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