By Peter Sullivan - 03/29/16 05:06 PM EDT
House Republicans on Tuesday subpoenaed documents from the administration related to ObamaCare payments that they say violate the law.
“We’ve been trying to get answers since last June, but HHS simply will not cooperate,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (Mich.) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin BradyIRS doubted legality of ObamaCare payments, former official says Report: Pacific trade pact would boost growth, jobs and incomes Puerto Rico debt becomes constitutional fight on the right MORE (Texas) said in a joint statement.
“The administration funneled $1.3 billion last year into the Basic Health Program without a congressional appropriation — a clear violation of the law,” they added. “Our good faith attempts to learn basic, and targeted facts have been met with resistance every step of the way. The American public deserves answers now. ”
The Basic Health Program is a health insurance program states can choose to participate in that is aimed at providing a more affordable option for low-income people who make slightly too much to qualify for Medicaid. The federal government provides funding to assist states in making the insurance affordable.
However, Republicans say the Obama administration is paying out these funds for the program even though Congress has not appropriated the money. The administration argues that it already has a permanent appropriation under the Affordable Care Act, but Republicans say that permanent appropriation was only for the law’s tax credits, not for the Basic Health Program.
Republicans have been stepping up their arguments that a range of ObamaCare payments are unlawful.
House Republicans have also issued subpoenas for documents related to the law’s “cost sharing reductions” aimed at lowering consumers’ out-of-pocket costs for care. In addition, the House has sued the Obama administration over those payments, in a case still making its way through the courts.
They have also targeted ObamaCare’s “reinsurance” payments.
Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), the top Democrats on the two committees, said Tuesday that the new subpoenas are “yet another futile attempt to weaken the ACA” after more than 60 repeal votes.
“It is long past time for House Republicans to stop trying to deny health coverage to vulnerable populations in our country and instead join Democrats in working to ensure all Americans have the health coverage they need,” they said.
HHS spokesman Ben Wakana said the departments has worked with Congress to respond to its document requests, adding: “We are disappointed the Committee has chosen to respond in this manner.”
The Republicans say that after months of trying, HHS has redacted portions of certain documents it did produce, and has refused to produce other documents.
The subpoenas call for the documents to be produced by April 12.