GOP Sens. Press HHS To Scrutinize Spending on Failed Exchanges
Three Republican senators in a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell have asked whether HHS will seek to recoup money from states that used federal funding to construct their own exchange websites under the Affordable Care Act but failed to do so successfully, Modern Healthcare reports.
In the letter, the senators -- John Barrasso (Wyo.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Orrin Hatch (Utah) -- noted that states received more than $1 billion to create their own exchange websites and several have had significant technological issues. Two of the states -- Nevada and Oregon -- abandoned their exchanges websites and are instead using HealthCare.gov for this open enrollment period (Demko, Modern Healthcare, 11/18). Massachusetts and Maryland also scrapped their original exchange websites in favor of HealthCare.gov after receiving federal funds to build them (Ferris, The Hill, 11/18).
The senators wrote that the funds "equat[e] to hundreds of millions of dollars in government waste" and urged HHS to quickly address the issue (Modern Healthcare, 11/18).
This is the second time Burwell has been pressed on the issue. According to Modern Healthcare, Burwell also was questioned about the matter during her Senate confirmation hearing earlier this year. During the hearing, Burwell said she would be supportive of taking action to recover the funds. In the letter, the senators voiced concern that no action has been taken so far (Modern Healthcare, 11/18).
In addition, the senators noted that CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in September implied that the issue is a state matter, instead of one that should be handled by the federal government. They wrote that Tavenner's comments differ significantly from what Burwell said during her confirmation hearing (Howell, Washington Times, 11/18).
The senators requested that HHS respond to the letter by Dec. 12 (Modern Healthcare, 11/18).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.