Lawmakers Question HHS Secretary on Healthcare Co-ops

By:  Raven Clabough
Lawmakers Question HHS Secretary on Healthcare Co-ops

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is once again being called upon to explain the use of taxpayer dollars related to ObamaCare, this time, for health insurance co-ops.

Sebelius had already been asked to answer for the disastrous rollout of the costly website, but is now also being questioned on the $2 billion in loans lent to various not-for-profit health co-ops.

Reuters explains, "Created with $2 billion in government loans, some two dozen not-for-profit health co-ops are meant to provide consumers with more choice in the Obamacare exchanges against far larger players like Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and Aetna Inc."

The premise behind the creation of the co-ops was to create competition on the exchanges, according to the Obama administration. The administration asserts that the co-ops are a key to keeping prices affordable, but lawmakers are concerned about the repayment of the government loans.

Several Republicans presented Secretary Sebelius with a letter questioning the use of taxpayer dollars in launching health insurance co-ops and whether that money will be recovered. The letter came from Senators Orin Hatch (R-Utah), a ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee; Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; Michael Enzi (R-Wy.), ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Children and Families; Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee; and Rep. Charles Boustany, Jr. (R-La.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee on Oversight.

As noted by World Net Daily, it is not the first time that members of Congress have requested information regarding the Health and Human Services’ co-op program, which has loaned money to non-profit health insurance issuers that offer health plans in individual and small-group markets.

"Out of the $1.98 billion awarded to CO-OPs, what amount does HHS expect to be repaid? What is the period of time by which HHS expects these funds to be repaid?" were among the questions presented to Sebelius.

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Photo of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: AP Images

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