- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Republican lawmakers filed a bill Wednesday requiring states that abandon their faulty Obamacare markets to repay the federal government for grant funds they received to plan and build the portals.

Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming and Orrin Hatch of Utah say roughly half of the states that opted to set up their own health exchanges failed to build a successful website and should pay that money back over the next 10 years.

“The American people are sick and tired of writing a blank check for the health care law’s complete failures,” Mr. Barrasso said. “After forcing taxpayers to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for the failed website, the Obama Administration now expects Americans to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for failed state exchanges. Enough is enough.”

The senators singled out seven states — Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon and Vermont — and the Washington, D.C., as falling short in their efforts, despite receiving a total of $1.4 billion to establish their exchanges.

Three dozens states relied on the federal government to run their health exchanges during open enrollment from Oct. 1 to March 31 of this year. The rest of the states experienced a mixed level of success in rolling out their own exchanges, with Kentucky, Connecticut, California and others enjoying a relatively smooth rollout.

** FILE ** Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
** FILE ** Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, speaks to reporters at ... more >

Others, such as the District, will likely object to the GOP’s characterization of its performance.

But some were full-scale disasters, prompting state officials to cuts ties with their contractors or rewrite their deals.

The new bill’s cosponsors note that two of the worst-performing states, Oregon and Massachusetts, may seek more funding to drop their exchanges and use the federal system known as HealthCare.gov.

The senators field the State Exchange Accountability Act hours before Sylvia Mathews Burwell, President Obama’s pick to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, was scheduled to appear before the Senate Finance Committee for her second confirmation hearing in as many weeks.

Mr. Hatch is the top Republican on the Democrat-led panel.

Sen. Hatch will question Burwell on the merits of Obamacare and how the adverse impacts of the law affect Americans every day,” said Aaron Fobes, a spokesman for the committee’s GOP minority. “He will also press Burwell on how the President’s signature domestic policy achievement has led to higher taxes, crushing mandates and fewer choices for patients.”