COLUMBIA, S.C. — Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and her counterpart from South Carolina have asked the White House to arrange a meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius over prosecutors’ concerns about the health care overhaul.
In a letter provided on Tuesday to The Associated Press, Bondi and South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson ask President Barack Obama to direct Sebelius to meet with them, saying previous requests made directly to the secretary have gone unanswered.
“Due to the lack of response to the multitude of concerns shared with your Administration by numerous states over the last several months, we are requesting you to direct Secretary Sebelius to meet with the concerned attorneys general to address those issues,” the two Republican prosecutors wrote.
According to Wilson’s office, Tuesday’s letter marks the first time the prosecutors have reached out directly to the president. Neither the White House nor Sebelius’ office immediately responded Tuesday to AP’s requests for comment
Wilson and Bondi were among 13 attorneys general who have previously written to Sebelius questioning whether there will be enough protection of consumer data in Obama’s signature health law. They signed an Aug. 8 letter, which asked the secretary a number of questions about how “navigators” – counselors hired to help people sign up for coverage under the law – would be screened, trained and monitored.
In September, Wilson testified before a joint hearing of U.S. House panels, saying he was concerned citizens’ personal information won’t be properly protected as they sign up for insurance under the federal health care overhaul.
In the latest letter, Wilson and Bondi also ask the president to push Congress to pass legislation letting people keep their existing coverage – Obama’s oft-repeated promise that any American satisfied with current coverage would be allowed to keep it. Last month, the Obama administration opened a last-minute loophole in its health insurance overhaul, offering one-year hardship exemptions from tax penalties to Americans whose private coverage was cancelled because it did not meet the new law’s benefit requirements.
“Your Administration made this promise to the American people and that promise should be kept,” the attorneys general wrote.
Wilson and Bondi’s Republican predecessors helped spearhead a lawsuit arguing that provisions requiring individuals to have health insurance or be penalized through taxes and expanding states’ Medicaid programs are unconstitutional.