WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah today asked the Obama administration whether the federal budget sequester will curb the significant amount of federal tax dollars going to states to help them set up health care exchanges under the President’s health care law.
“Given that your Department will be making $55 billion worth of cuts, we would like to better understand how these grants fall into the bigger picture of sequestration reductions,” Grassley and Hatch wrote to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Ensuring proper use of American taxpayer dollars during hard budgetary times is of the upmost importance, and we trust you share our concerns.”
The federal government already has awarded more than $1 billion to 33 states to help them set up health care exchanges, and much more could be awarded because the budget for these grants is unlimited, the senators said. The health care law is “virtually silent” on how the funds are to be used, and there is little accountability tied to the money. Grassley and Hatch asked whether the federal government will stop, eliminate or reduce the federal grants to states for health care exchanges during sequestration and whether the government takes into account the unlimited grants when calculating sequestration savings.
The text of the Grassley-Hatch letter today is available here.