GOP Wants IRS Data on Billion-Dollar Fund

Copyright:(c) 2011 A.M. Best Company, Inc.
Source:A.M. Best Company, Inc.

GOP lawmakers want the Internal Revenue Service to explain how it is spending its share of a $1 billion fund created to help launch elements of the Affordable Care Act.

Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany, R-La., sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman seeking information about the Health Insurance Reform Implementation Fund. The chairmen asked for expenditure plans, the number of employees involved, administration emails and memos, and total amounts of funding requested and received above the $473.3 million the agency requested in the fiscal year 2012 budget for health reform-related funding.

“The [IRS] has received tens of millions of dollars from this fund to implement parts of the health care overhaul,” Camp and Boustany said. IRS spokeswoman Julianne Breitbeil declined to answer questions about the letter, saying the agency’s policy is to not comment on congressional communications.

The Affordable Care Act allocated $1 billion for a Health Insurance Reform Implementation Fund within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The startup fund followed a model used in the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, HHS spokeswoman Jessica Santillo said.

In the nearly 14 months since the reform act became law, HHS has allocated approximately $165 million. The dollars have supported salaries, benefits, contracts and infrastructure for reform initiatives, she said, including the hiring of experts on private insurance and the creation of a new website,

The Ways and Means letter is the latest move by House Republicans to seek information about administration actions leading up to and following passage of the reform law.

In recent letters to America’s Health Insurance Plans, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and other groups, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., asked for “a list of each meeting, briefing or telephone call” and “all notes, minutes, transcripts, documents, summaries or any other written or recorded materials” relating to health reform meetings. They also requested the names of every employee or representative who discussed health reform with “any employee, detailee, or any other representative of the White House Office of Health Reform, the White House or the Department of Health and Human Services.” Also among the multiple documents requested are all estimates or analyses of the effect of health reform legislation on the organizations and its members. The committee is pursuing information from those that lobbied on what became the Affordable Care Act because the White House has not responded to its inquiries about “secret health care negotiations,” Upton said in a statement (BestWire, April 21, 2011).