Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The power of the HHS secretary

Normally, a Cabinet secretary is there to implement laws as part of the President's administration.

However, when a law hands over power to the administration to determine much of the policy and regulation, then the implementation of that law can look very different depending on which administration is in office.

Such is the case with the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services. The amount of power held in this position vastly increased in 2010. The text of the Affordable Care Act mentions the position of Secretary 3,267 times.

This means under the same law, the administration in power can, for example, determine whether or not nuns get sued for paying for birth control or not.

An effort to repeal the ACA is not just about repealing part of the U.S. Code, but about pulling back from the administration the power to be able to have so much latitude in how the law is implemented and what policies are in place.

Republicans in Congress are concerned about the nomination of Xavier Becerra to be Secretary of Health and Human Services. Pro-life groups join them in their opposition.

The Trump Administration sought to increase freedom and decrease the shedding of innocent blood through abortion in public health policy.

Most people do not yet realize how different those priorities could be under the Biden Administration.

That such extreme changes could be within the scope of implementing the same law is a testament to why the Affordable Care Act still should be repealed. The question is not about how the may “benefit” certain people, but about how Congress wrongfully disadvantaged itself in terms of making law and policy.

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