Billions in Obamacare exchange money remains unaccounted for

Sixteen states (plus the District of Columbia) collected more than $5B to set up Obamacare exchanges after the Affordable Care Act kicked into action. But years later, much of that money was never directed toward the IT development costs for the exchanges or – in some cases – for any specified cost. And yet almost none of it has been returned. So what happened to all that sweet federal cash? That’s the question Fox News is asking today.

About $4.6 billion was given to these 17 recipients, including California, New York, Washington state and Kentucky.

But the GAO report found that so far, just $1.4 billion of that has been spent on IT projects, and a total of $3 billion has been “spent or drawn down,” though not all the spending is detailed.

That, then, leaves at least $1.6 billion unaccounted for. Yet only three states returned any portion of the money – a total of just over $1 million was given back.

“[T]he specific amount spent on marketplace-related projects was uncertain, as only a selected number of states reported to GAO that they tracked or estimated this information,” the report said.

Even though states were supposed to set up their marketplaces by the end of last year, they are not yet legally required to return unused funds.

They highlight a recent American Spectator report which identifies the missing funds which disappeared into the states’ coffers but offers few clues as to where all the money is now.

David Catron highlighted the monetary discrepancy and raised the question of whether Democratic officials improperly diverted or spent more than $3 billion in taxpayer grant money.

“It’s hard to know with any degree of certainty where the money went,” he told “So all we know with any confidence is how much was awarded, how much went to IT and what the difference is.”

Catron pointed out that 85 percent of federal funds went to Democrat-controlled states, and that only three states returned any money to CMS while the remaining 13 states and D.C. have yet to return any funds.

There’s a real puzzler for you, eh? 85% of the money went to states with Democrat controlled governments and they either didn’t use it for the intended purpose or it just disappeared. Shocking, I know. But how often do you see federal dollars going anywhere with the recipients turning around and saying, oh, that’s okay. We didn’t need that much. Take the rest back. That’s not how the system works, and frankly I’m not sure if Uncle Sam would know what to do with the cash if anyone actually gave it back. The operation of virtually every department in the federal government is based on a principle of asking for as much money as they can get and then spending every last dime of it before the end of the fiscal year so they can justify asking for more the following year. That was the founding premise of Jim Geraghty’s book, The Weed Agency and it’s even more true in real life than it appears in parody.

But don’t worry. I’m sure all those states will come up with receipts for where the money went or return the balance any day now. Yes we can, baby.