- The Washington Times - Monday, April 22, 2013

The House’s top investigator said Monday that he’s worried about the administration’s plans to shift money around to implement President Obama’s new health law.

Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House oversight committee, has a host of questions for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who last week said she is going to spend funds left in an Affordable Care Act account plus “money transferred from other sources” to implement the state-based health insurance “exchanges.”

Citing media reports and a June 2012 memo from the Congressional Research Service, Mr. Issa expressed skepticism over how the funds will be cobbled together. CRS said HHS was expected to exhaust money in the Health Insurance Reform Implementation Fund, dedicated to implementing the health law, by the end of last year.

Now, HHS wants to spend $1.5 billion in fiscal 2013 on the federal exchanges, according to agency officials.

HHS’s top finance official told reporters earlier this month the funding would include $235 million from what’s left in a $1 billion fund to implement the health law, another $450 million would come from a non-recurring expense fund, and $116 million would come “from the secretary’s authority to transfer funds.”

Republicans on the oversight committee criticized those plans in a letter to Mrs. Sebelius. They said costs for the health law must be funded through specific grants from Congress, and can’t be cobbled together by the administration shifting money around.

“Thus,” Mr. Issa said, “it appears that your plans to use funds outside of the HIRIF to finance implementation of the FFEs are inconsistent with the law.”

A spokesman for HHS could not be reached immediately for comment on Mr. Issa’s concerns.



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