As the battle over Obamacare rages in Washington, the White House is quietly using a little known provision of the law to roll out a nationwide network of free gas stations for minorities and the poor.
According to a report in The Detroit News this morning, the administration is using its authority under the Affordable Care Act to "improve transportation routes to hospitals" to dispense gasoline free of cost in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
The $2 billion-a-year program aims to distribute 40 million gallons of free gasoline each year through 70 new gas stations constructed in major metropolitan areas. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) will be responsible for operating the network, whose first station opened yesterday in Detroit.
"It's not something we're publicizing very much, for obvious reasons," explains Dori Salcido, assistant DHS secretary for public affairs. "But under the law we are well within our rights to offer this service, and we think it's good public policy.
"How are people supposed to get to the doctor's office if they don't have gas in their cars? Health insurance is worthless if you can't make your appointment. This is just another fine example of government stepping in and solving big problems."