Republicans push for new IG to monitor ObamaCare

Three dozen House Republicans on Thursday proposed a bill that would create a special inspector general to monitor the implementation of ObamaCare.

Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) proposed the bill to ensure proper monitoring of the law and accused the Obama administration of keeping implementation data secret.

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"From the time the bill was being drafted in secret in then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office to the healthcare law's current implementation, the public has been largely kept in the dark about a law that puts the federal government in charge of one-sixth of the economy and is wreaking havoc on Americans' personal healthcare decisions," he said. "Congressional oversight of the law has been dogged, but the administration has repeatedly stonewalled investigators and been less than forthcoming with the public."

Among other things, Republicans have sought information on how many people have enrolled and paid for a health plan under ObamaCare, as well as details about the many problems HealthCare.gov had when it was rolled out. Administration officials have provided regular updates, but Republicans say those updates have fallen short of providing all the information they want.

"Only an independent, congressionally authorized special inspector general with the authority to reach into the many federal departments, state governments, outside contractors and a deeply involved White House can provide the much-needed transparency and accountability in a way that no single oversight official currently can," Roskam said.

Under his bill, H.R. 4158, the Special Inspector General for Monitoring the Affordable Care Act (SIGMA) would report to Congress 120 days after taking the position and report quarterly on every aspect of the law's implementation. That includes how the law affects out-of-pocket healthcare costs, provider networks, Medicare and other issues.

The SIGMA would be appointed by the president and would have to be confirmed by the Senate. The bill specifies that nominees must have demonstrated ability in auditing, healthcare, finance and/or investigations.

The officeholder would have the power to subpoena officials to get a full picture of the implementation of the law. The bill explicitly prohibits the White House or any agency from interfering with these investigations.

Roskam noted that other inspectors general have had success in ferreting out waste and abuse in other programs, another reason to create one for ObamaCare. He noted the IG created for the bank bailout program found $5.3 billion in savings and said that $700 billion program is less than half the size of the $1.8 trillion implementation cost of ObamaCare.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) is among the 35 GOP co-sponsors of the bill.