Why won’t the White House explain how off-budget ObamaCare money got spent?

posted at 10:01 am on March 8, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Democrats designed the ObamaCare system to mainly fund itself. The low-income subsidies come directly from taxes levied in the so-called Affordable Care Act, as well as some other spending functions. However, it became clear early on that the Obama administration miscalculated the operational costs of ObamaCare when Kathleen Sebelius began pressuring insurers to contribute to Enroll America after the non-profit hired Obama administration figure Anne Filipic to assist HHS in preparing people for the sign-up launch in October. Republicans called this an attempt to get around the Constitution by creating new lines of funding for executive-branch operations, while they also wondered exactly where HHS got its funding for other efforts in ObamaCare.

In the last bipartisan budget deal, House Republicans got an amendment that forces the White House to reveal its money transfers in HHS to explain how they found the cash. However, as Politico reports, that’s only half of the problem:

The Obama administration is dropping some new hints about how it has moved money around to fund Obamacare without Congress — but not nearly enough to put the controversy to rest.

Forced to reveal more details under a provision tucked in this year’s bipartisan budget deal, the Department of Health and Human Services declared Friday how it used Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s authority to move about $1.6 billion in departmental funds around last year — the Cabinet secretary’s version of looking for change under the couch cushions and hitting the jackpot.

But HHS didn’t say exactly how it spent the money, and it didn’t lay out the kind of detail Republicans sought. So now the Republicans will have to decide their next move, whether it’s just more records requests or new efforts to tie the Obama administration’s hands in future appropriations bills.

We already knew that Sebelius used $450 million of the Prevention and Public Health Fund to pay for Healthcare.gov, in a small bit of irony given the unhealthy status of that platform since its launch. The only thing it’s prevented is enrollments and cancellation of erroneous sign-ups. One surprise is that CMS, which runs Medicare and the federal portion of Medicaid, coughed up $268 million that just happened to be lying around in the “general program operations account.” I’ve worked for corporate units where the topline revenue number doesn’t get up to $268 million, and that’s just spare change? Sebelius also found another $300 million from HHS’ Non-Recurring Expenses Fund, which is the account where all of the unused cash from previous years gets stashed.

In other words, in just three line items, the federal government got its hands on more than one billion dollars of loose cash, used for purposes that Congress never authorized. Remember when Obama demanded an end to the “era of austerity” last week in his budget proposal?

So … how did all of this money get spent? Republicans may need another amendment to find out:

The report doesn’t say anything about how the money was spent — just where it came from. It also doesn’t say how much more there might be from the sources that have been tapped before. That’s likely to make Republicans re-up their demands for greater transparency.

Republicans have pressed for detailed information on the contracts issued for Obamacare implementation and the personnel used to do the work, particularly on the botched HealthCare.gov rollout and the subsequent website salvage mission. The new report gave them exactly nothing on that score.

“In their half-hearted attempt to respond to Senate language requesting detailed Affordable Care Act expenditures, the administration refused to reveal how much was spent on specific activities and projects,” Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, the top Republican on the appropriations subcommittee responsible for HHS, said in a statement. He said he was disappointed in the “budgetary smoke and mirrors” of the new accounting.

If that cash was put to efficient and effective use, the White House would hardly be so reticent to explain it. They would confidently reveal how the administration used scarce resources to succeed in its efforts, and proudly highlight the program’s progress. The fact that they’re playing a shell game with Congress over the sources and uses of the money tells us all we need to know about HHS and ObamaCare.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Tyrants Run Wild all while the GOP eunuchs grab their crotches and discover they have an empty hand.

hillsoftx on March 8, 2014 at 10:07 AM

Everything this administration does is cloaked in secrecy…

OmahaConservative on March 8, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Please. We all know the money ended up in the bank accounts of Obama cronies.

That’s where it always ends up. It’s the Chicago way.

AZCoyote on March 8, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Valarie Jarret just bought Haiti….

Instead of Chicago Slum Lord, she wants to be Island Country Slum Lord.

BigWyo on March 8, 2014 at 10:13 AM

The fact that they’re playing a shell game with Congress over the sources and uses of the money tells us all we need to know about HHS and ObamaCare.

.
I can’t wait until our fair-minded even-handed unbiased equanimous media treats the next non-Democrat administration with the same hands-off approach they do the Øbama administration.

ExpressoBold on March 8, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Democrats designed the ObamaCare system to mainly fund itself.

LOL!!

BigWyo on March 8, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Most transparent administration EVEH!

RoadRunner on March 8, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Please. We all know the money ended up in the bank accounts of Obama cronies.

That’s where it always ends up. It’s the Chicago way.

AZCoyote on March 8, 2014 at 10:13 AM

…from every department this administration runs!…the new rich!

KOOLAID2 on March 8, 2014 at 10:22 AM

Democrats designed the ObamaCare system to mainly fund itself themselves.

Looks more accurate.

tru2tx on March 8, 2014 at 10:26 AM

It’s amazing how much of this garbage you can find reading back through the media “fact check” sewer.

Might make a good blog or column. Go back and destroy an old, disproven “fact check” item every day. These hacks need to be destroyed.

forest on March 8, 2014 at 10:33 AM

the most “transparent administraton ever”….ugh

CoffeeLover on March 8, 2014 at 10:35 AM

Gotta fund the “stash” somehow.

battalion on March 8, 2014 at 10:39 AM

Democrats designed the ObamaCare system to mainly fund itself. FAIL!!!!!

LOL!!

BigWyo on March 8, 2014 at 10:15 AM

FIFY!!!!

ladyingray on March 8, 2014 at 10:41 AM

So now the Republicans will have to decide their next move, whether it’s just more records requests or new efforts to tie the Obama administration’s hands in future appropriations bills.

Multi-task. Do both.

kringeesmom on March 8, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Why? because it was most likely ill-conceived, poorly executed, wasteful, politically stupid, and… possibly illegal.

trigon on March 8, 2014 at 10:55 AM

Why won’t the White House explain how off-budget ObamaCare money got spent?

Uh, because it was simply stolen?

Dr. ZhivBlago on March 8, 2014 at 10:58 AM

Yeah it was stolen. One way or another. Our government is completely out of control.

dogsoldier on March 8, 2014 at 11:13 AM

The Official White House reply?

“At this point, what does it matter?”

coldwarrior on March 8, 2014 at 11:16 AM

Democrats designed the ObamaCare system to mainly fund itself.

Stopped reading right there, Ed.

You don’t seriously believe that, do you?

Not even the most deluded Commie Statists believed that …

ShainS on March 8, 2014 at 11:17 AM


Why won’t the White House explain how off-budget ObamaCare money got spent?

Cause they are F-ing thieves!

roflmmfao

donabernathy on March 8, 2014 at 12:00 PM

They can always take something from the hundreds of millions given to Murder Incorporated, aka Planned Parenthood. That’s ‘health-related’, right?

slickwillie2001 on March 8, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Sounds to me like there needs to be a very thorough congressional audit of HHS. If there’s a billion dollars just lying around, isn’t that really a bypass of Congress’ authority to spend?

I think what really needs to happen, when and if we ever get another HONEST executive branch, is that every agency needs to be audited for waste, and unspent monies then returned to the national treasury.

Murf76 on March 8, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Why won’t the White House explain how off-budget ObamaCare money got spent?

What difference does it make? It’s only a billion dollars – or two; but who’s counting?
It’s just small change compared to the near-total disappearance of the trillion-dollar “stimulus”…which no one can tell you where it went.

The d’ohbama regime is engaged in the greatest program of theft ever seen on Earth…
…and they’re going to get away with it, scot free.

Solaratov on March 8, 2014 at 12:17 PM

…and lets not forget the ‘home inspections‘ provided for in the ACA.

Ricard on March 8, 2014 at 12:31 PM

Why won’t the White House explain how off-budget ObamaCare money got spent?

For the same reason that we never learned about how the “stimulus” money was spent?

Are the same “folks” playing these shell games with taxpayers’ money being hired from the welfare-scammers’ pool?

Heads should roll.

It’s a shame that this less-than-glamorously “sexy” topic won’t get the traffic that it shoud.

onlineanalyst on March 8, 2014 at 12:39 PM

Obamacare will never work.

The corrupt politicians and crony bureaucrats in D.C. will spend the next five years, wasting billions of dollars and endless man hours trying to push water uphill.

D.C., you are all fools, one mistake away from cascading collapse. The citizens have spent the last four years observing your epic fail.

MichaelGabriel on March 8, 2014 at 1:04 PM

So … how did all of this money get spent?

Same way the “Stimulus” money got “spent”. It was shoveled to cronies, who promptly wrote checks to the DNC.

GarandFan on March 8, 2014 at 1:35 PM

ALL money belongs to the government
They just let the peasants keep a portion so we don’t riot.

Since the Republicans apparently aren’t going to take any action to limit the flow of money to the Executive Branch, the Obama administration does what it wants, when it wants, for whatever reason it wants.

pilsener on March 8, 2014 at 3:10 PM

Off budget money? He really does have a stash.

Kissmygrits on March 8, 2014 at 7:00 PM

I am SICK to death of hearing GOP congressional a saying they are “disappointed” when this administration COMMITS FELONIES and VIOLATES THEIR OATHS OF OFFICE to uphold the laws and the Constitution!

THIS ADMINISTRATION IS CRIMINAL. Time to use the word!

mountainaires on March 9, 2014 at 8:20 AM

It’s like taking the 5th but on a government level. If you do not supply facts or explanations then no one can hold you accountable for what you say or do.

If they explained it then “We The People” would know about the Governmental level money laundering and “Iran, Contra” “Bag Pipes” “No bid contracts”, that have permeated this government. Why do you think there is no budgets any more? A budget is an outline of income and out flow. No budget and you have no proof of anything. Why do you think no one is ever held accountable for anything in this government?

These all all the signs of the demise of our democracy, the very root of our existence. We will soon be “NO MORE” only a foot note in someone else history book.

Why have we come to this. Why have we allowed so many before us to fight for and die for a concept that “We The People” have allowed to be destroyed for WHAT?

jpcpt03 on March 9, 2014 at 3:33 PM

MYTH:

“President Obama has committed to making his administration the most open and transparent in history…”

TRUTH:

President Obama has made his administration the most SECRETIVE and ███████████ in history.

ITguy on March 10, 2014 at 1:18 PM