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Ignoring Supreme Court, Obama's White House has set aside $500 million for 'Obamacare'

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 9th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Health care reform - or "Obamacare," as it has become known to many, has not yet been approved. The Supreme Court is still listening to arguments, and a decision is not expected until June. However -- the Obama administration has been busy diverting roughly $500 million to the IRS to help implement the president's healthcare law.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The money being set aside for health care reform is being provided outside the normal appropriations process. The Internal Revenue Service is responsible for several key provisions of the new law, including the unpopular individual mandate.

Republican lawmakers have repeatedly tried to cut off funding to implement the healthcare law, at least until after the Supreme Court renders an official decision. Oral arguments earlier this month indicated the justices might well overturn at least the individual mandate, if not the whole law.

"While President Obama and his Senate allies continue to spend more tax dollars implementing an unpopular and unworkable law that may very well be struck down as unconstitutional in a matter of months, I'll continue to stand with the American people who want to repeal this law and replace it with something that will actually address the cost of healthcare," Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) says. Rehberg chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee for healthcare and is in a closely contested Senate race this year.

In spite of this mounting opposition, the Obama administration has forged ahead. The White House has moved aggressively to get important policies in place. According to a review of budget documents and figures provided by congressional staff, the administration is also tearing through implementation funding provided in the healthcare law.

Health care reform contains dozens of targeted appropriations to implement specific provisions, giving the Department of Health and Human Services a $1 billion implementation fund, to use as it sees fit. Republicans have called it a "slush fund."

HHS plans to drain the entire fund by September, before the presidential election. Roughly half of that money will ultimately go to the IRS.

HHS has transferred almost $200 million to the IRS over the past two years and plans to transfer more than $300 million this year.

The Government Accountability Office has said the transfers are perfectly legal and consistent with how agencies have used general implementation funds in the past. The $1 billion fund was set aside for "federal" implementation activities, the GAO said, and can therefore be used by any agency - not just HHS, where the money is housed.

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