Two House committee leaders are demanding that the Obama administration make officials available for interviews about the public exchange plan cost-sharing reduction subsidy program.
Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Calif., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, say they still have a right for information about the operations of the subsidy program, even though House Republican leaders are involved in a court fight over the matter with the administration.
The committees asked the administration for information about the subsidy program in February, and again in July.
“To date,” the lawmakers say, “the department has not provided any documents in response to our request.”
The court fight over the subsidy program is not a valid basis for refusing to respond to congressional oversight requests, the lawmakers say.
The letters are addressed to Sylvia Burwell, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Jacob Lew, the Treasury secretary.
In the HHS letter, the lawmakers ask to talk to the chief financial officer, deputy CFO and general counsel at HHS, and the acting chief operating officer at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
In the Treasury letter, the lawmakers ask to talk to the CFO, chief counsel, deputy CFO and former PPACA services and enforcement director at the Treasury Department’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) division.
The cost-sharing reduction subsidy program eases the burden of deductibles and other cost-sharing requirements on Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchange plan users with incomes under 250 percent of the federal poverty level.
The Obama administration first asked Congress for an annual appropriation authorizing subsidy program payments. When Congress refused to provide an annual appropriation for the payments, the administration said it believed it had authority to make the payments under a permanent appropriation provision in PPACA and went ahead with making the payments.
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