[ Wednesday, November 30, 2011 ]


"We Can't Wait." HHS has issued a press release on steps it is taking to encourage providers to adopt health information technology. Yawn. Another day, another press release, right?

Not exactly. This press release doesn't start with the bland, dry bureaucrat-speak you usually see, it's got a punchy tag line. HHS can't wait for doctors and hospitals to get on the bandwagon and get with this whole computer thingy, so the press release starts out, "We can't wait."

Hmm, that sounds familiar. Where have I heard "we can't wait" before, and recently? Oh yeah, it's Obama's 2012 reelection campaign slogan.

If you thought the US Department of Health and Human Services was an organ of the Democratic Party, . . . you're apparently right.


UPDATE: a reader named Ben writes in the comments:

I've read your blog for many years, and always found it very helpful. But I
don't read it for political commentary.

And I generally try to keep this blog free from political commentary, more or less. It's no secret I'm a conservative (although I have no allegiance to the Republican party, a/k/a the "stupid party"), and that naturally flavors my way of viewing things. But if I wanted to write political rants here, I'm free to do so, since it's my blog. And Ben (and all the rest of you) are free to not read my rants. I'll give you a full refund of your subscription fees, too.

But the HHS is not, and shouldn't be, the President's political mouthpiece. He's President, so he gets to appoint the top folks and run it as he likes, with policies pointed in the direction he likes, subject to the specific boundaries set by Congress. Just like he gets to fly around the country on Air Force 1 (at a large cost of taxpayer dollars) and tie up traffic in Manhattan for political fundraisers; as long as there's some non-political purpose as a fig leaf for part of the trip, then he's allowed to do so. Regardless of which party he leads.

But he doesn't get to use HHS for political purposes. He doesn't get to use HHS to provide care only to Democrats, or to grant waivers only to states that voted for him. HHS belongs to all of us, not to the President. Just as the President's political operatives can meet with him in the White House but can't use White House resources for campaigning, he can guide the HHS in a way that suits him politically but can't use it as a campaign tool. It's not right, it violates a public trust, and it creates an appearance that HHS is a partisan organization.

I would call out a Republican president who did the same thing. Of course, if it were a Republican, I wouldn't be the only one.

Jeff [3:23 PM]

I've read your blog for many years, and always found it very helpful. But I don't read it for political commentary.
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