The ability of the Obama administration to provide unlimited funds to states to establish health exchanges would end under legislation reported out by a House committee late Tuesday.
The House Energy & Commerce Committee legislation, H.R. 1213, would strike the unlimited direct appropriation of funds provided under the healthcare reform law for creation of state-based exchanges.
The bill would also order that unspent money in the hands of the Department of Health and Human Services to provide funds to the states be returned to the Treasury.
The bill is among five bills that would rescind authority to fund the law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the panel, says the committee passed the bills to “limit the Department of Health and Human Services’ unprecedented power, and restore Congress’ fiduciary duty as representatives of the people.”
Other bills passed by the E&C panel dealing with healthcare reform appropriations would rescind a provision of the law that gives HHS $17.5 billion over 10 years to prevention and public health programs beyond existing programs already funded by Congress.
Another would rescind a similar program that authorizes HHS to award grants to support the construction of school-based health centers.
House Republicans who supported this legislation, H.R. 1214, argue that a similar program has already been created for Congress to fund through the regular annual spending process. They note also that the president’s budget for 2012 did not request funds through this grant program to provide health care services.
Another bill, H.R. 1215, converts a program that establishes grants for personal responsibility education programs and provides $75 million for each of fiscal year, 2010 through 2014, into an authorization that requires separate funding by Congress.
Another bill would do the same thing for a provision of PPACA that authorizes HHS to award teaching health centers development grants and appropriate $230 million from 2011 through 2015.
The bills were supported by all Republicans on the committee and opposed by most Democrats.
Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the panel, says the bills were passed by the panel and sent to the House floor because “In a rush to pass the health care reform package, obvious flaws were included in the final bill.”
He says the bill’s sponsors “didn’t have time to determine the cost of a program, and blank lines in a bill turned into blank checks signed by the taxpayers.
” Today, I am pleased that the committee voted to repeal this unchecked spending power,” Upton says.