by Rick Moran
Congress is looking into the funding for several Obamacare programs for which no money has been directly appropriated.
What president Obama has done is empower the executive branch to do pretty much whatever it wants, whenever it feels the need.
Earlier this month, a federal judge ruled that the administration is unlawfully paying insurers who are required to reduce costs for poorer customers on Obamacare’s exchanges.
But there are other Obamacare programs that the administration is running for which Congress has refused to fund.
But they also want to know if the administration is going around the Affordable Care Act’s text to fund the Basic Health Program, a second, lesser-known part of the 2010 health care law that allows states to set up a coverage program for low-income people who are ineligible for Medicaid and would otherwise enter Obamacare’s subsidized health care exchanges.Subpoenas ignored or willfully unfulfilled, stonewalling witnesses, and lies, lies, lies. Sound familiar? "The most transparent administration in history" has a game plan when dealing with Congress and they play it out to the letter. They even defy federal judges, daring the judicial branch to sanction them.
So far, only Minnesota and New York have implemented the program.
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, Michigan Republican, and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, Texas Republican, said they have been asking for nearly a year about how the program is funded. They said a high-ranking official who briefed them did not bring any of the documents with her and that documents they later received had multiple redactions.
They subpoenaed a narrower set of records in March.
“These subpoenas created a legal obligation on the department to produce all responsive materials,” the chairmen wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell. “Since the subpoenas have been issued, however, your department has produced only one heavily redacted page of one document.”
On May 23, the chairman also asked HHS to hand over documents that justify the administration’s decision to permanently fund Obamacare’s cost-sharing program, which reimburses insurers who reduce co-pays and deductibles for qualified Obamacare enrollees as a condition of participating in the law’s insurance exchanges.
Republican lawmakers say the administration needs annual permission from Congress and even zeroed out funding for the payments.
U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer, presiding in Washington, said this month that the reimbursements must stop until Congress explicitly permits them, though she stayed that order pending an appeal.
The chairmen said that ruling strengthens their hand in pursuing the cost-sharing documents and that HHS hadn’t asserted any legal privilege for withholding documents related to the Basic Health Program.
“Your refusal to provide the requested documents and information raises serious concerns about the department’s willingness to be accountable for the lawful execution of laws passed by Congress,” the chairmen wrote.
HHS spokesman Matthew Inzeo said the agency is reviewing the letter, and that the Basic Health Program is a vital tool for low-income Americans.
What president Obama has done is empower the executive branch to do pretty much whatever it wants, whenever it feels the need. The next president, be they Republican or Democrat, will inherit this power and, given the nature of power, try to expand it.
The Constitution is becoming an inconvenience for the executive, rather than a rulebook to be followed. When the president refuses to "faithfully execute the laws" of the US, what do we have? A monarch? An emperor?
What we don't have is a president as envisioned by the founders - wielding power carefully balanced with that of the Congress and judiciary. At biggest risk is the individual liberty of the citizen. For without the protections guaranteed in the Constitution, our freedoms are frangible and can be taken away with little trouble.
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