Obama administration officials circumvented the Constitution and appropriations laws in sending taxpayer dollars to insurance companies for Obamacare payments, according to a joint report from the House Energy and Commerce and House Ways and Means committees.
A provision in Obamacare known as the cost sharing reduction program lowers deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance for individuals who qualify to provide extra savings. The Obama administration has been paying for this program without congressional appropriation since January 2014, despite the fact that the Constitution makes clear that the executive branch cannot spend taxpayer money without the approval of Congress.
The administration has been funding it through a permanent appropriation, which can only be used for specific programs including tax refunds and enumerated refundable tax credits. The permanent appropriation must be amended by Congress to include other programs.
The 18-month long investigation directed by the chairmen of both committees, Reps. Fred Upton (R., Mich.) and Kevin Brady (R., Texas), was launched to understand why the administration is funding the program through a permanent appropriation and who made that decision.
According to the report, the administration knew that it could not use the permanent appropriation to fund the program and requested an annual appropriation from Congress for the program, but the Senate Committee on Appropriations denied it.
“The administration developed a new—albeit illegal—path forward to pay for the [cost sharing reduction] program,” the report states. “High-level IRS officials raised concerns about this plan, but the decision had already been made.”
The Obama administration has refused to comply with subpoenas despite multiple attempts to seek answers about funding of the program.
“For well over a year, the committees have steadily pursued requests for documents and testimony about the administration’s funding of the [cost sharing reduction] program,” the report states. “Using a number of different tactics, the administration has impeded and obstructed the investigation at every turn.”
The Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to requests for comment by press time.