HHS needs to nurture, not negate, collaboration with Church and states

By Tom Quiner

Here’s the mottos of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):

“improving the health, safety, and well-being of America.”

What a sick joke.
The resignation of Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of HHS is welcome news. She presided over the disastrous rollout of the Obamacare exchanges. With four years to get the thing up and running, and with hundreds of millions of dollars at her disposal to make it work right, it  has been an embarrassing clunker.
But that’s not the reason I’m glad she’s gone. Ms. Sebilius is an ideologue of the worst type. She imposed the HHS Mandate on us, which this blog has written on frequently. Obamacare would never have passed if we knew in advance we’d be compelled to violate our religious conscience by purchasing coverage we consider to be immoral.
There is a sick mindset at work here that pits a radical, anti-life ideology against common sense. For example, the Catholic Church works with human trafficking victims, formerly as a contracted service through HHS. HHS now bars them from helping these tragic people unless they offer the ‘full range’ of reproductive services including abortion, this despite the fact that the Catholic program was the “highest rated” of all those being funded by HHS.
Human trafficking victims were victimized a second time by these ideologues who pulled the plug on the best help they were receiving anywhere: from the Catholic Church.
Do you know who I’d like to see running HHS? Newt Gingrich.

I’d like to see the man who was a driving force in landmark welfare reform legislation replace Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of HHS.

The motto of this sprawling agency is “improving the health, safety, and well-being of America.” To that aim, President Obama and current Secretary Sebelius believe the best way to do that is to treat human life as a disease and trample on our religious liberty with their HHS mandate on religious institutions.

Newt Gingrich would undo their warped view of HHS his first sixty seconds as Secretary.

HHS is a sprawling bureaucracy with 67,000 employees and a $700 billion budget.

What would be Mr. Gingrich’s vision for HHS if he became its Secretary? We can get a clue from his book, A Nation Like No Other, Why American Exceptionalism Matters:

“In 1996, welfare reform returned the share of federal spending on the program to each state in the form of a “block grant” to be used in a new welfare program.

The key to the 1996 reforms was that the new block grants to each state were finite, not matching, so federal funding did not vary with the amount the state spent.

If a state’s new program cost more, the state had to pay the extra costs itself. If the program cost less, the state could keep the savings.

There was just one problem with the 1996 reforms: they only reformed one federal program. The federal government sponsors another 184 means tested welfare programs, including Medicaid, Food Stamps, 27 low-income housing programs, 30 employment and training programs, 34 social services programs, and 24 low-income child care programs, among others. All these programs could and should be block-granted back to the states just as AFDC was in 1996, effectively shedding the federal government of responsibility for welfare.”

A Newt Gingrich would approach the mammoth task of reforming the HHS as a collaborative effort with the states and churches as opposed to the top down, cram-it-down-your-throat approach preferred by Ms. Sebelius and President Obama.

Liberals think that conservatives hate government. I don’t think that is quite correct. Conservatives believe government functions most efficiently the closer it gets to the people it is serving.

I sit on the Commission of Community Action Agencies here in Iowa and witness first-hand efficient government in action, because it is government close to the people.

Mr. Gingrich shares that view.

We need him at HHS. Perhaps next time.