GOP launches probe of $500M transfer to IRS for Obama's health law

House Republicans want the IRS to explain how it’s using the $500 million it received from another department to help implement President Obama’s healthcare law.

The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) has transferred roughly $200 million to the IRS to implement the reform law and is planning to transfer about $300 million by the end of this year, The Hill first reported this week.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Oversight subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany (R-La.) sought more information Wednesday about how the tax agency is using the funding.

“The American people deserve to know how and why this one-half billion in taxpayer dollars are being spent, and how many additional IRS agents, auditors and other workers are being hired to enforce all the hundreds of billions of dollars in new taxes and penalties in the Democrats’ health care law,” Camp and Boustany said.

In a letter to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, the lawmakers asked for a breakdown of how much money the IRS expects to spend over the next decade, how many employees are working on healthcare implementation and which provisions those employees are working on.

They also asked whether the IRS changed the amount of money it’s seeking from Congress as a result of the transfers from HHS.

Several big components of the health law fall to the IRS, including the controversial individual mandate. The agency is also overseeing tax credits to small businesses and will administer subsidies to help low-income people buy insurance.

The transfers from HHS have come out of a $1 billion fund created by the healthcare law for general implementation activities. Government auditors have said the transfers are legal, but the practice has nevertheless provided new fodder for Republican critics of the healthcare overhaul. 

— This story was updated at 12:00 p.m.