HHS says the speed with which the EERP exhausted its funding just shows that the program was popular. Employers jumped at the chance to lower the cost of providing health benefits to their retirees, HHS says, and some 5 million people received benefits from the program.
Republicans disagree with that analysis.
“Like (the healthcare law) itself, the ERRP simply threw money at a problem—here, the cost of retiree medical care—without doing anything to address the skyrocketing costs of that care,” the GOP memo states. “The program had no rational basis or justification, and simply bailed out overextended state programs, wasted taxpayer money that otherwise could never have been justified or spent on a case-by-case basis, and unnecessarily doled out taxpayer funds to some of the nation’s most profitable corporations.”
HHS has hired an outside auditor to examine the program and verify that its payments were legitimate. And a recent Government Accountability Office report found nothing untoward about the way the money was distributed.
— This post was updated at 5:10 p.m.