Some Republicans want to put the U.S. Department of Justice in charge of any suits against vendors that may have shortchanged failed public health insurance exchange programs.
The department would get to file any suits based at least in part on allegations of fraud, waste or abuse at the vendors in federal court. If the department won settlement or judgment awards, it would have to turn any cash recovered over to the U.S. government.
See also: PPACA World: Legal work heats up
Members of a House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee considered the bill containing that proposal — H.R. 4262, the Transparency and Accountability of Failed Exchanges Act bill — today at a hearing in Washington that was streamed live over the Web.
Rep. Rick Allen (R-Ga.) introduced H.R. 4262 in December. In addition to the provision putting the Justice Department in charge of failed Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange vendor suits, the bill would require a state to audit its failed exchange and send the results of the audit to the federal government. The bill also would put the federal General Services Administration in charge of disposing of the assets of failed ACA exchange programs.
The GSA could auction off a failed exchange program’s computers, copiers and other property, transfer the property to federal agencies for those agencies’ official use, or lease the property to other entities.
Hawaii, Nevada and Oregon are examples of states that tried to set up state-based, state-built ACA exchange programs but ended up shifting to using HealthCare.gov, the ACA exchange enrollment and administration system built by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HHS set up the system to provide ACA exchange services in states that were unable or unwilling to do so.
Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Alexandria, Va.-based Galen Institute, praised the bill at today’s hearing.
HHS has given states $5.5 billion in ACA exchange development grants, Turner said.
“States have decided they can sue the [information technology] managers who set up their websites, when their websites have failed,” Turner said. “They then want to keep that money. That’s an abuse of taxpayer money.”
Continue reading …
Witnesses also talked about several other proposals, including H.R. 3463, the Aligning Children’s Dental Coverage Act bill, and a draft bill, which does not yet have a bill number, that would toughen the requirements for consumers who try to buy individual major medical coverage outside the ordinary open enrollment period.
H.R. 3463, the children’s dental insurance bill, would loosen an ACA children’s dental benefits requirement.
The ACA classifies children’s preventive dental coverage as a benefit that any individual or major medical or small-group major medical plan sold since January 2014 must cover.