Committee Approves Legislation to Eliminate Health Care Slush Fund, Limit HHS' Unprecedented Power and Restore Congress' Oversight Role
WASHINGTON, DC - The House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), today approved five pieces of legislation that take initial steps to defund the health care law, limit the Department of Health and Human Services' unprecedented power, and restore Congress' fiduciary duty as representatives of the people. In addition to the five health spending-related bills, the committee approved legislation to return reclaimed broadband stimulus funds to the U.S. Treasury.
"These bills share a common theme: protecting the American taxpayer. Our committee said we would focus on jobs, reducing spending and repealing the health care law, and the bills passed by the committee today make real progress toward accomplishing these goals," said Upton.
H.R. 1343, authored by Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH), improves oversight and clarifies NTIA and RUS's responsibility to return reclaimed stimulus funds to the U.S. Treasury. The bill passed through the committee by voice vote.
Section 1311(a) of PPACA provides the Secretary of Health and Human Services an unlimited amount of funds for state-based exchange grants. H.R. 1213, authored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), strikes the unlimited direct appropriation and rescinds any unobligated funds. The bill passed through the committee by a vote of 31 to 20.
Section 4002 of PPACA creates a $17.75 billion (FY2012-2021) prevention and public health fund and provides the Secretary with full authority to administer these funds to spend over and above existing programs already funded by Congress. H.R. 1217, authored by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), repeals Section 4002 and rescinds any unobligated funds. The bill passed through the committee by a vote of 26 to 16.
Section 4101(a) of PPACA authorizes the Secretary to award grants to support the construction of school-based health centers. A similar program is authorized for Congress to fund through the regular annual spending process. However, the president's budget did not request funds this grant program to provide health care services. H.R. 1214, authored by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), eliminates this subsection and rescinds any unobligated funds. The bill passed through the committee by a vote of 27 to 15.
Section 2953 of PPACA establishes grants for personal responsibility education programs and provides $75 million for each of fiscal years 2010 through 2014. H.R. 1215, authored by Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), converts the appropriation into an authorization that would require Congress to determine funding through the normal annual appropriations process. The bill would also rescind any unobligated funds. The bill passed through the committee by a vote of 25 to 17.
Section 5508 of PPACA authorizes the Secretary to award teaching health centers development grants and appropriates $230 million for 2011 through 2015. H.R. 1216, authored by Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), would convert the mandatory appropriations into an authorization subject to the annual appropriations process. The bill passed through the committee by a vote of 21 to 14.
Upton said, "In a rush to pass the health care reform package, obvious flaws were included in the final bill. Authors didn't have time to determine the cost of a program, and blank lines in a bill turned into blank checks signed by the taxpayers. Today, I am pleased that the committee voted to repeal this unchecked spending power."