Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and U.S.
Representative Kevin Brady (R-Texas-8) are urging the Biden administration to
take a strong line against waste, fraud, and abuse of new Obamacare subsidies.
Brady, and 26 of their colleagues sent a letter
to the Biden administration late last week imploring them to exercise greater
oversight of the expanded Obamacare subsides enacted as a part of the $1.8
trillion American Rescue Plan.
excerpt for the letter can be seen below:
The U.S. Government Accountability Office
(GAO) has found that these subsidies are susceptible to significant improper
payments. With the federal deficit projected to grow to record levels this
year, fiscal accountability has never been more important…
…The vast majority of this additional
spending has gone to insurance companies to cover individuals who already had
health insurance. However, it is not just existing enrollees that receive
additional taxpayer subsidies from this law. Taxpayers will spend at least $3
billion to subsidize the health insurance premiums of certain high-income
earners, or those making over 750 percent of the federal poverty level.
demands stronger oversight of $45B Biden boost to Obamacare
Republicans are demanding that the Biden administration
exercise greater oversight of the massive expansion of Obamacare premium tax
credits enacted as part of President Joe Biden's pandemic relief legislation, a boost
that federal budget experts say will cost taxpayers nearly $45 billion.
“The U.S. Government
Accountability Office has found that these subsidies are susceptible to
significant improper payments,” 28 Republicans told the administration in a
letter exclusively obtained by the Washington Examiner. “With
the federal deficit projected to grow to record levels this year, fiscal
accountability has never been more important.”
Pennsylvania Republican Pat
Toomey and 27 other GOP lawmakers demanded the Biden administration disclose
how it plans to verify enrollment eligibility for expanded Obamacare tax
subsidies outlined in the American Rescue Plan, an expansion estimated to
Biden’s $1.8 trillion
American Rescue Plan signed into law in March temporarily expanded tax
subsidies for insurance plans under Obamacare to help people hurt financially
during the pandemic to afford coverage. Republicans from both chambers are
calling on the Biden administration to explain how it plans to mitigate the
risk of improper spending.
The American Rescue Plan
enhanced premium tax subsidies to help earners at every income level pay for
coverage and, for the first time, made those with incomes greater than four
times the federal poverty level eligible. Unemployment benefit recipients are
also eligible for subsidies and cost-sharing reductions during 2021 that will
allow them to obtain a zero-premium benchmark silver plan.
The expansion is slated to
last through 2022.
“[The Department of Health
and Human Services] announced that tax credits for those receiving unemployment
benefits would be available in the summer, but noted that these consumers can
enroll starting April 1, 2021,” the letter to the administration said. “To
date, neither the Internal Revenue Service nor HHS has released information on
how it plans to verify subsidy eligibility for unemployment benefit recipients.”
The American Rescue Plan also
changed the rules for year-end tax reconciliation of insurance premium
subsidies for those workers whose incomes increase during the year, which the
Congressional Budget Office said will cost taxpayers more than $6.2 billion.
The GOP lawmakers are
pressuring the Biden administration to disclose how it plans to verify enrollee
eligibility for the expanded credits, proposing that the Department of Health
and Human Services cross-reference data from the Internal Revenue Service. They
also asked the administration to provide “additional details on the structure
of the improper payment program … the status of the development of the improper
payment rate for state-based exchanges, and a timeline for completion of both
improper payment rates.”
Their demands also include an
explanation of how HHS will enforce the Hyde Amendment, a provision attached to
congressional appropriations bills that prohibits federal funding for abortions
except in cases of rape, incest, or when a woman's pregnancy threatens her
life, in plans that would otherwise have zero premiums. Under Obamacare, the
plan issuer must establish two separate accounts into which enrollees deposit
premium payments: one account from which abortion claims are paid and another
account from which all other claims are paid.
The Republican lawmakers in
the House and Senate sent the list of demands to Biden on Thursday. They have
also requested that the administration conduct an interagency briefing to
review plans to improve oversight of how the government spends taxpayer
Other Republicans who
signed the letter include Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, Texas Sen. John Cornyn,
Montana Sen. Steve Daines, Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, and Texas Rep. Kevin