"Given the fact that without this demonstration, the new health care law would have taken current plans and choices away from many seniors in October of 2012 — right before the 2012 presidential elections — we believe that the (demonstration) may represent a thinly veiled use of taxpayer dollars for political purposes," they wrote.
The lawmakers go on to question whether the administration had the authority to approve such a large-scale demonstration.
"Generally," they write, "[...] demonstrations programs are supposed to be budget neutral for the purpose of testing new payment policies to improve the quality of care for seniors."
The lawmakers claim support for their position from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, the independent panel that advises Congress on reimbursements.
"MedPAC has noted that 'demonstration authority is intended for smaller scale projects that help decision makers learn about innovations in financing and delivering Medicare'," the letter states. "Rather than implementing this experiment on a smaller scale to evaluate its effectiveness, we are concerned that you chose to implement this demonstration nationwide — at an $8.3 billion cost to taxpayers."
MedPAC did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The letter goes on to request that HHS provide "the information, analysis, and data the Agency utilized in the creation of the demonstration, including the impact the demonstration will have on plans and beneficiaries on a county by county basis."
The letter gives Sebelius until May 3 to reply.