Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Defunding Obamacare


• On January 1, 2014—three months into the next fiscal year—Obamacare’s new entitlements are scheduled to take effect. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government will spend $48 billion in 2014—and nearly $1.8 trillion through 2023—on these new entitlement programs.

• Also on January 1, Americans will be forced by their government to buy a product—health insurance—for the first time ever. This mandate will be enforced by tax penalties administered through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The Obama Administration has requested over $400 million in funding, and nearly 2,000 bureaucrats, for the IRS to implement the individual mandate and 46 other statutory provisions in its remit.

• Within the Administration, the blizzard of Obamacare rules and regulations continues apace. Regulators have now written over 20,000 pages of Obamacare-related rules and notices in the Federal Register. Many of these regulations will raise the cost of insurance; the Congressional Budget Office concluded Obamacare would raise individual health insurance premiums by $2,100 per year.

Questionable Spending

• In addition to Obamacare’s new entitlements, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has used much of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) budget as a “slush fund” for Obamacare implementation.

• Earlier this year, HHS announced it was diverting $150 million in community health center funding toward Obamacare enrollment and outreach. HHS also created “in-person assisters”—a program not authorized in Obamacare—to allow state exchanges to use more federal dollars for Obamacare enrollment efforts.

• Congressional committees recently opened investigations into HHS’s actions. Secretary Sebelius has acknowledged making calls asking outside organizations to fund a pro-Obamacare campaign run by former White House officials. And the Food and Drug Administration—which has no jurisdiction over health insurance programs—used taxpayer funding to promote Obamacare enrollment efforts.

Need for Immediate Action

• The only way for Congress to stop the new entitlements and executive branch spending abuses is to defund all Obamacare implementation efforts across the federal government.

• Full defunding of Obamacare would halt the law’s new entitlements before they start—and prevent HHS from raiding other parts of the departmental budget to promote Obamacare.

• Defunding Obamacare would also prevent the application of the law’s new regulations and 18 separate tax increases, including the tax for not complying with the individual mandate.

• While Congress cannot unilaterally repeal Obamacare, the Constitution grants Congress the ultimate “power of the purse.” If Congress chooses not to fund Obamacare activities for the upcoming fiscal year, the Obama Administration cannot act to implement the law. Congress can, and Congress should, act to defund all of Obamacare now.

This Fact Sheet was originally published by The Heritage Foundation.