Senate and House GOP Question HHS on Wasteful Billion Dollar Loan Program
Wednesday, May 09, 2012Joe Brenckle 202-224-2465
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senior Republicans in the Senate and House today questioned whether a Health and Human Services’ (HHS) $3.8 billion loan program to create non-profit health insurers would result in greater competition and lower costs. In a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the members noted that the Department’s own actuarial estimates suggest at least $1 billion in taxpayer dollars may inevitably be wasted.
The letter was signed by Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member on the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee funding HHS, and Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.).
“HHS may be seriously underestimating the financial risk that these new entities pose to the Federal Treasury,” the members wrote. “Recent reports have highlighted the challenges facing CO-OPs, which strongly suggests that the program will fail to provide consumers with promised viable alternatives or reduced costs. The new health care law is unfortunately already exacerbating this problem. As a result, many individuals and small businesses are confronting the reality of fewer choices and higher costs when purchasing health insurance.”
Given prior failures in government lending, including huge loans to now bankrupt Solyndra, the members requested responses to a number of questions, including that the Department correctly assess both the measures it has established to protect taxpayer funds and the process by which HHS has awarded the CO-OP loans.
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