Health Subcommittee Passes Five Bills to Eliminate Slush Fund, Limit HHS' Unprecedented Power and Restore Congress' Fiduciary Duty

March 31, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), today approved five bills that repeal the Health and Human Services Secretary's unlimited tap on Treasury to fund state exchange grants, eliminate unaccountable slush funds, and restore Congress' oversight by replacing some direct mandatory spending and subjecting it to the annual appropriations process.

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 subcommittee by a vote of 14 to 11.

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. H.R. 1217, authored by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), repeals Section 4002 and rescinds any unobligated funds. The bill passed through the subcommittee by a vote of 14 to 11.

Section 4101(a) of PPACA, authorizes the Secretary to award grants to support the construction of school-based health centers. However, it prohibits using the funds for personnel or to provide health services.  In addition, the president's budget did not request funds for a 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 subcommittee by a vote of 14 to 11.

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 subcommittee by a vote of 15 to 11.

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 subcommittee by a vote of 14 to 11.

###