Who Is the Most Powerful Woman in America?

Answer:  Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius:

There are more than 2,500 references to the secretary of HHS in the health care law (in most cases she’s simply mentioned as “the Secretary”). A further breakdown finds that there are more than 700 instances in which the Secretary is instructed that she “shall” do something, and more than 200 cases in which she “may” take some form of regulatory action if she chooses. On 139 occasions, the law mentions decisions that the “Secretary determines.” …

[She] will be able to determine what type of insurance coverage every American is required to have. She can influence what hospitals can participate in certain plans, can set up health insurance exchanges within states against their will, and even regulate McDonald’s Happy Meals. She’ll run pilot programs that Democrats have set up in an effort to control costs, and be in a position to dole out billions of dollars in grant money.

Full article by Philip Klein in The American Spectator here.

Comments (9)

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  1. Bruce says:

    Maybe we should call her “Super Nanny.”

  2. Devon Herrick says:

    Nancy DeParle is referred to as President Obama’s Health Care Czar. Kathleen Sebelius will wield far more power over our lives. What title outranks a Czar? Maybe a Health Care Emperor. There will be much power vested in the office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

  3. Bruce says:

    How about the “Nanny Czar”?

  4. artk says:

    Oh hogwash, every bill has the same “may” and “shall” cabinet secretary language.

  5. Tom H. says:

    I don’t agree with you, artk. In fact, I would be willing to bet that you can’t find a single employer anywhere or a single health insurer or even a single hospital who can tell you what is going to happen to them under this bill. Most don’t even know whether the effects on them will be good or bad, but even if they are pretty sure it is going to be bad, none of them have any idea how bad.

    The reason is that this bill vests enormous power in the hands of the HHS Secretary. So much so that I don’t think you can point to any previous precedent for it.

  6. artk says:

    Tom: This is the same sort of language you’ll find in almost every bill passed by Congress. Regardless of the level of uncertainty on the part of insurers or companies, the fact remains this is typical legislative language. Read any bill you want: interior department; education; defense; energy; you name it. You’ll find the bills laced with “the secretary may” and “the secretary shall”. Don’t react before you research.

  7. Ken says:

    No one has mentioned the most perplexing aspect of this. Why invest such huge amounts of discretion in the executive branch on a bill that was 100% partisan? That virtually guarantees that when the Republicans regain the White House they will issue different — and maybe radically different — regulations. It makes absolutely no sense.

  8. artk says:

    Just for fun, I decided to review a recent bill for the count of mays and shalls. The recent credit card act is about 33 pages, just slightly shorter than the agreement that your credit card company expects you to read and understand. That bill is administered by the Federal Reserve Board, so instead of “the Secretary shall”, it says “the Board shall”. In those 33 pages, you’ll find board may/shall 28 times. The health care reform bill is 80 times longer then the credit card bill, so the health reform bill should have over 2000 instanced of secretary may/shall, as opposed to the only 900 that were reported. By my count, it’s missing the phrase secretary may/shall 1100 times. Criticize the health care bill because you don’t like the idea of extending health care, or how it extends health care, or how you see it’s effect on the cost of health care, but keep the criticism rational. Don’t criticize the bill because it’s just like every other bill.

  9. John Goodman says:

    Maybe I’m wrong, but my impression is that under a normal bill (like a credit card bill) the intent of Congress is reasonably clear and the implementing agency merely fills in details to carry out that intent.

    In this case, let’s take the decision on who gets grandfathered. Truth is, on the Democratic side of the aisle, almost no one had any idea what they were voting for and on the Republican side few had any idea what they were voting against.

    So the Secretary has almost no sense of Congress to follow and (unless you count Obama’s empty promises about being able to keep your plan if you like it), no guidance at all on how to impose rules.

    The regulation draft that came out yesterday has estimates all over the map — from one-third to two-thirds of all employees will not be grandfathered.

    And not being grandfathered can be enormously expensive.

    This is not normal or business as usual for Washington.