Report: Funds Diverted to Pay for Obamacare Implementation

Friday, 07 Mar 2014 01:20 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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The Obama administration has not provided an exact breakdown of where it has spent $2 billion since 2010 on implementing Obamacare, according to Politico.

But a list included in the Health and Human Services Department’s $77 billion budget "justification" document released on Friday shows how the agency funded the creation of the Affordable Care Act.

It reveals that federal officials diverted $450 million last year from the healthcare law’s Prevention and Public Health Fund to finance Obamacare operations, including the disastrous rollout of the HealthCare.gov. exchange website.

Republican have labeled the prevention fund "a slush fund," according to the report that claims that the administration went to inordinate lengths to get around financial roadblocks from Republicans who want President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy repealed.

Another revenue stream included in the $1.6 billion that the government spent last year on the implementation of Obamacare was $113 million from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ "transfer authority." It was not revealed where the money was transferred from and what form the authority took.

There was also another $300 million in financing from the unexplained "Non-Recurring Expenses Fund," as well as $268 million from the general programs account at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Sebelius can exert some control over CMS funds, Politico said.

Republican Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, the ranking member on the appropriations subcommittee responsible for HHS, slammed the "budgetary smoke and mirrors" of the HHS accounting and attacked the lack of details about Obamacare costs from the department.

"In their half-hearted attempt to respond to Senate language requesting detailed Affordable Care Act expenditures, the administration refused to reveal how much was spent on specific activities and projects," Moran said in a statement.

The omnibus spending bill signed in January to fund the government through the end of this fiscal year require HHS to detail its Obamacare spending in its justification document.

Politico noted that when the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010 it included just $1 billion for its implementation, which was heavily criticized at the time as being too little to make sweeping changes to the massive healthcare system.

The 2014 budget agreement prevents HHS from raiding the Prevention and Public Health Fund again to pay for Obamacare costs. But the government can help pay for the system with the help of the $200 million it expects to amass this year from the 3.5 percent fees healthcare insurers are billed for using the federal exchange.

The HHS has asked for $1. 8 billion in 2015 to fund Obamacare, of which $1.2 billion is likely to come from those insurers’ fees for using Healthcare.gov. But it is not known where the other $600 million will come from, Politico said.

Sebelius said earlier this week that if Congress does not approve the president’s request for Obamacare funds, "We will look at other sources of funding."

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