GOP chairmen threaten to subpoena HHS secretary

GOP chairmen threaten to subpoena HHS secretary
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A pair of House Republican chairmen are threatening to subpoena Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell for their probe into potentially misspent ObamaCare dollars.

Ways and Means Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyTrump gets recommendation for steep curbs on imported steel, risking trade war Business groups pressing for repeal of ObamaCare employer mandate Watchdog: IRS issued bonuses to employees with conduct issues MORE (R-Texas) and Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said Friday that the Health Department has refused to hand over documents for their investigation into a new state health program that they believe has been funded without Congress's permission.

“We remain deeply concerned about the administration’s decision and your agency’s lack of cooperation with this important investigation,” the chairmen wrote in a letter released Friday.

The plan, called the Basic Health Program, gives states a lower-cost alternative for offering coverage to people who can’t afford ObamaCare plans but aren’t eligible for Medicaid.

The federal government pays for 95 percent of what BHP enrollees would have received in marketplace subsidies.

Republicans argue that Congress never appropriated the funding for the program, which has been receiving funding for six months. The chairmen said the health department’s refusal to cooperate has been an “ongoing obstruction” in their investigation. 

The few documents that were sent to the committee staff were “improperly redacted,” the chairmen said.

The Basic Health Program program launched in 2015, nearly a year after its intended start date. It’s now in use by both Minnesota and New York.

A senior HHS official briefed the committees about the implementation in July 2015. Two months later, the committee asked for more information, and then, unsatisfied by the department's response, the committees reiterated their request in December.

It's not the first time Burwell has faced subpoena threats from GOP leaders: Upton joined now-House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRepublicans are avoiding gun talks as election looms The Hill's 12:30 Report Flake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan MORE (R-Wis.) in a subpoena threat over ObamaCare documents last summer.

That battle is now at the center of a lawsuit from House Republicans.