IT’S TIME FOR AN OBAMACARE WATCHDOG
Today, Congressman Peter Roskam (R-IL) introduced H.R. 4158, legislation that would create a Special Inspector General for Monitoring the Affordable Care Act (SIGMA).
“From the time the bill was being drafted in secret in then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office to the healthcare law’s current implementation, the public has been largely kept in the dark about a law that puts the federal government in charge of one sixth of the economy and is wreaking havoc on Americans’ personal healthcare decisions,” said Roskam. “Congressional oversight of the law has been dogged, but the Administration has repeatedly stonewalled investigators and been less than forthcoming with the public. The American people have a right to a fair and full accounting of the healthcare law, including what decisions are being made, how the law is performing and how it will impact them and their families. Only an independent, Congressionally-authorized Special Inspector General with the authority to reach into the many federal departments, state governments, outside contractors and a deeply involved White House can provide the much-needed transparency and accountability in a way that no single oversight official currently can.”
H.R. 4158 would require the Special Inspector General for Monitoring the Affordable Care Act to provide a report to Congress within 120 days after appointment, followed by quarterly reports and audits that would span every aspect of the healthcare law, from the impact on out-of-pocket costs, to shrinking provider networks, contracting, the role of the Independent Payment Advisory Board in cutting Medicare benefits and much more. SIGMA would also be equipped with the same investigative and law enforcement authority as standing Inspectors General, including subpoena and audit powers to compel responses from the Administration.
“With the president’s legacy so closely tied to the success of the healthcare law, the Administration is operating under a win-at-all-costs mindset,” said Roskam. “The White House is changing rules and bending policy to serve their political needs, without regard to the uncertainty and new costs such moves create for Americans forced to live under the law. Only yesterday the Administration waived the minimum coverage requirements for insurance policies—an aspect of the law the Administration describes as foundational--for the express purpose of preventing a wave of health policy cancellations from hitting Americans just before the midterm elections. With a SIGMA in place, examining the healthcare law in real time, the Administration’s PR machine will no longer be the only source of information on the healthcare law and its performance. Finally, we will be able to get real answers for the public.”
Recent Special Inspectors General have identified billions in waste, fraud and abuse and directly saved taxpayers billions more. Specifically, SIGTARP, which was responsible for oversight of the $700 billion Wall Street Bailout identified $5.3 billion in restitution and savings, including $533 million in direct taxpayer savings. In comparison, the healthcare law is estimated to cost $1.8 trillion when fully implemented, dwarfing TARP’s cost to taxpayers.
Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR):
“If there’s any government boondoggle that cries out for a special inspector general, it’s Obamacare. ATR is proud to support this bill.”
Brad Close, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy, National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB):
"Thank you for introducing legislation to provide increased oversight of the Affordable Care Act. Small businesses have long been concerned about the law and its implementation, and requiring reports on all aspects of the law will help provide the transparency that small business owners and all taxpayers deserve from their government."
Grace Marie Turner, President, Galen Institute:
“It is extremely important for Congress to conduct oversight of the health overhaul law that mandates sweeping changes to one sixth of the U.S. economy, spends trillions of taxpayer dollars, and impacts the health care of virtually everyone in the United States. Congressman Roskam is to be commended for working to protect citizens by calling for a Special Inspector General to conduct audits about the ACA’s implementation and spending and to regularly report the findings to the Congress and the American people. An independent special inspector general is needed because the Obama administration has demonstrated that it obscures and even hides information that Congress needs in order to make public policy decisions about the law and to make sure taxpayer dollars are being spent appropriately."
Daniel Z. Epstein, Executive Director, Cause for Action:
"The American people deserve vigilant oversight of Obamacare, a controversial program whose implementation has been beset by a host of significant problems since day one. The SIGMA Act of 2014 is a strong step towards realizing the goals of government accountability and transparency, and we look forward to working with you to enact the bill."
Read the full letter here.
Karen Kerrigan, President & CEO, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council):
"The implemenation of Obamacare and its impact on all Americans must be investigated and measured, and its findings made public. Siginficant taxpayer resources have been expanded on a poor Obamacare rollout, and bad policy in general. H.R. 4158 provides one central location for oversight, measurement, and transpqarency. An unbiased IG is needed to monitor how tax dollars are spent, and ig deeper into the workings of the program."
Read the full letter here.