The article gives a synopsis of the story:
In 2014, the industry-funded reinsurance program was supposed to provide $10 billion to insurers and $2 billion to the federal Treasury. But when total collections from insurers amounted to only $9.7 billion, the Department of Health and Human Services opted to funnel all of the money toward insurers. The agency paid insurers $7.9 billion in claims for 2014, the first year of exchange coverage, and held over the remaining $1.7 billion for future payments.
Republicans asked the GAO to weigh in on whether or not HHS had the authority to interpret section 1341 of Obamacare in such a way that it could withhold payments to the Treasury. The GAO report concludes HHS clearly does not have the authority to do so:
ObamaCare has been a disaster from the beginning and will probably totally collapse under the next President. The problem then becomes how to rebuild the damage to American healthcare that ObamaCare has done. If Hillary is elected, we will go to total government healthcare. If Trump is elected, the hope is that he will lean toward a system that favors the free market.
The article concludes:
Just to put this in perspective, there have been weeks of stories about the scandal of phony accounts at Wells Fargo bank. That’s a legitimate scandal in which bank employees created millions of unauthorized new accounts (and credit cards) in order to secure bonuses for themselves. However, the total amount set aside for refunds in that case was $5 million dollars. That’s apparently how much customers were ripped off by the shady practices at Wells Fargo. For this legitimate scandal, Wells Fargo is paying over $150 million in fines and has already fired over 5,000 employees.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration withheld $3 billion dollars belonging to taxpayers and essentially redirected it to private companies. It has not paid back the money. It has not been punished for taking it without authorization. No one at HHS has been fired. And Elizabeth Warren is not demanding HHS Secretary Burwell resign.
Will there be any accountability for HHS and the Obama administration for what amounts to the intentional misdirection of billions of taxpayer dollars to the president’s pet project? Will the media devote 1/4 of the attention to this that it has to the Wells Fargo story? We shall see but my advice is don’t hold your breath waiting for it to happen.
I realize that this is not an exciting story, but it is an important story. Not only did HHS exceed its power, it essentially stole money from the taxpayers. This sort of behavior by government agencies needs to be dealt with severely.