As published in The Blaze:
American taxpayers may be getting some much needed relief thanks to U.S. Congressman Rick Allen (R-GA-12). His bill, the Transparency and Accountability of Failed Exchanges Act (HR 4262), seeks to halt the irresponsible and wasteful spending habits of states that established private exchange programs.
After receiving more than $5 billion in federal grants, the private Obamacare exchanges have very little to show for themselves. Dismal enrollment numbers, huge overhead costs, and rampant spending have driven nearly half of them into bankruptcy.
One prime example of this waste, fraud, and abuse is Cover Oregon exchange program. After a year-long investigation, the House Oversight Committee released a disappointing report which asserted that Oregon Gov. Kitzhaber and his staff intentionally allowed the exchange to fail for political gain.
During Gov. John Kitzhaber’s time in office, more than $305 million of taxpayers’ money was wasted in a half-hearted attempt to establish a private healthcare exchange. Rather than putting more effort into developing the exchange into a viable health insurance program, Gov. Kitzhaber made the decision to scrap the exchange and make the switch to Healthcare.Gov in less than one year’s time.
While on the campaign trail of his unprecedented fourth term as Oregon governor, Kitzhaber had originally promised that Cover Oregon would be a better, stronger version of Obamacare at the state level. However, once it became clear the exchange would not be finished until after his re-election campaign, he and his staff decided that it was politically inconvenient and instead washed the whole program down the drain.
Not a single dollar of the $305 million was ever accounted for, let alone repaid to the American taxpayer.
Rep. Allen’s legislation will ensure that taxpayers are not left holding the bag for the nonsensical failures of Obamacare. The Transparency and Accountability of Failed Exchanges Act establishes a path to ensure that federal funds are repaid if state exchanges fail. The states will be required to keep adequate records of the federal funds they spend and report in detail how the money is used. Their record of expenses must be submitted to both Congress and the Department of Health and Human Services. States will be required to return any unused funds or misappropriated purchases to the federal government, which will be used to reduce the $19 trillion national debt.
Rep. Allen’s legislation is a commonsense solution to this egregious problem. It has 63 cosponsors and has been endorsed by the National Taxpayers Union, The Council for Affordable Health Coverage, Citizens Against Government Waste, and Americans for Tax Reform.
In the three years that Obamacare has been the law of the land, there has been no real checks and balances put in place to track the use of its federal funds. States have been given unquestioned power to distribute our tax dollars in any way they see fit.
Regardless of which side of the aisle one sits on, everyone should agree that government waste, corruption, and the abuse of power should not be tolerated. The Obama administration has allowed the ramshackle state exchanges to barrel down the tracks of our healthcare program without any safety rail. It’s time for the members of Congress to put the brakes on the runaway Obamacare train by enacting Rep. Allen’s legislation.