After spending most of the $5.5 billion of federal money allocated to the states for the creation of state-based exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, the numerous failures have lead to calls for accountability and recovery of taxpayer funds. Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA) has introduced legislation to bring that about, titled the Transparency and Accountability of Failed Exchanges Act.
The failure of the Obamacare exchanges in Maryland and Oregon have lead to lawsuits against IT contractors, that helped build the exchange web sites, by those states. The specter of some states receiving some of the federal taxpayer funds recovered via those suits has raised the question of whether those moneys will end up in state “slush funds” for the failed exchanges.
“After five years of failed policies and higher cost of care, it has become crystal clear that Obamacare was not well thought out. When this legislation was signed into law, the President freely gave money away to states to establish the state exchanges— however they forgot one piece of the puzzle. They provided no solution for recovering these funds when the state exchanges failed,” Rep. Allen stated about the transparency and accountability bill, “Billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent since—and the taxpayers should not be on the hook for subsidizing these failed exchanges. My legislation fixes the problems by providing a plan to recover federal funds when the state exchanges fail and requires unused funds to be returned back to the federal government to pay down the national debt. The shortcomings of Obamacare should not be placed on the backs of American taxpayers.”
The bill introduced by Rep. Allen will provide two important steps in recovering the federal taxpayer funds from the failed exchanges while ensuring transparency. The legislation will ensure that states have kept records and properly recorded how the funds were spent by filing records of those expenses to Congress and the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and it will require all unused funds to be returned to the federal Treasury Department for deficit reduction and any real property purchased to be returned to the General Services Administration.
The bill has support from many grass-roots groups representing taxpayers, including Americans for Tax Reform (ATR).
“A recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) painted a distributing picture regarding the use of state exchange funds. First, just $1 million has been returned to the federal government, according to the report. In addition, one-third of funds was unaccounted for and another one-third was spent on undisclosed, vague expenses such as “outreach” and “education”,” ATR stated in supporting Rep. Allen’s bill.
After his nomination to the position of Administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), acting Administrator Andrew Slavitt has been questioned before the U.S. Senate about the failure of the exchanges and accounting for the money spent on them by Senators performing advice and consent on his nomination.
Both the failure of the state-based exchanges under Obamacare and the lack of accountability and transparency has been reported and well documented. Rep. Allen has strongly communicated the need for federal taxpayer money spent on the failed exchanges to be accounted for returned to the federal government on behalf of taxpayers. While CMS, and Slavitt, have failed to account for the funds spend on the state-based exchanges or answer questions raised by members of both houses of Congress, the bill introduced by Rep. Allen will address these issues on behalf of the American people. Members of Congress should rush to get this legislation passed.