Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee say they have found at least $5.7 billion in wasted ObamaCare spending from the last five years.
Panel Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin HatchHow to marry housing policy and tax reform for millions of Americans Though flawed, complex Medicaid block grants have fighting chance A guide to the committees: Senate MORE (R-Utah) said his staff have tallied the costs of five programs that have failed or "added no value," from the dysfunctional HealthCare.gov website to the national sign-up navigator program.
The federal government's HealthCare.gov, which broke down in the fall of 2013, has been one of the most criticized components of ObamaCare's rollout. Some estimates have put the cost of the botched launch and the series of tweaks to fix the website at $2 billion, a figure that Hatch's staff cited Thursday.
The analysis includes $1.3 billion spent on now-defunct state exchanges: Minnesota, Massachusetts, Oregon and Maryland. These systems, all in blue states, were plagued by technical issues and eventually scrapped or majorly reformed. Republicans have frequently pushed federal health officials to recoup the costs of the exchanges.
Hatch also pointed to a $2.4 billion co-op program, which included 24 plans but saw little success with sign-ups. Hatch estimated that $1 billion in funds will not be recouped from the programs.
Doug Holtz-Eakin, president of the conservative think tank American Action Forum, said at the hearing that he is troubled by the co-op’s pricing strategies, in particular.
“The track record to date is quite poor,” he said. “They are losing money, and in some cases have gone bankrupt, and that clearly spills into everyone else in the marketplace.”
Another $120 million went toward the healthcare navigator program over the last two years. The funds helped pay for thousands of people across the country who helped sign up and explain ObamaCare coverage.
The Obama administration has acknowledged lapses in planning that helped tank HealthCare.gov and other state websites. Health officials have stood behind the navigator program, which they say helps to encourage signups among hard-to-reach populations.
David Blumenthal, president of nonpartisan group The Commonwealth Fund, touted the progress of ObamaCare at Thursday's hearing. He said plans have proven to be "relatively affordable" while the government's exchanges have been "quite stable and competitive."