Press Release

Committee Leaders Request Watchdog Review of Obamacare State Exchange IT Systems


01.13.16

With Nearly $5.5 Billion Doled Out, Committee Concerned with Risk to Taxpayer Dollars


WASHINGTON, DC – Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee today requested the nonpartisan watchdog Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) role in assisting states transitioning from a state-based information technology (IT) system to the federal program. With nearly $5.5 billion in Obamacare grants already awarded to states, committee leaders are concerned whether states will be able to financially sustain their marketplace IT systems, putting further taxpayer dollars at risk.  

The committee leaders write, “These grant awards totaled approximately $5.5 billion at the end of December 2014, with 83 percent of the funds awarded to states that chose to establish their own marketplaces (i.e., state-based marketplaces). Yet, roll-out and operation of the marketplaces has been problematic for many of these states, as websites froze or crashed, and other technical problems hindered or prevented consumers’ ability to enroll in healthcare. Consequently, a number of states that struggled with their IT implementation are now using the federal IT platform to allow consumers to enroll. To date, four states—Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oregon—have chosen this course for one or more years of marketplace coverage.”

The leaders continued, “The ACA required state-based marketplaces to be self-sustaining beginning January 1, 2015, and prohibited CMS from awarding exchange grants after December 31, 2014. In the absence of federal funds to support state marketplace operations, questions remain as to whether states will be able to financially sustain their marketplace IT systems. Given the significant federal investment in these state marketplaces, and the unavailability of federal grant funds to support state marketplace operations, we are requesting that the Government Accountability Office examine and report on this issue.”

The leaders are requesting GAO to address the following questions:

  1. What, if any, assistance has CMS provided to guide states that choose to transition to a different marketplace IT platform, and what are the associated costs and challenges for states in making this transition?
  1. What, if any, assistance has CMS provided to guide states’ efforts to financially self-sustain any future marketplace IT systems development and operations and what are selected states’ plans for self-sustainability?
  1. What, if any, role has CMS taken or planned to oversee and monitor the operation and performance of states’ marketplaces in the absence of federal grant funds?

The letter was signed by full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Health Subcommittee Chairman Joseph Pitts (R-PA), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA), and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR).

Read the letter online here

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Subcommittees
Health (114th Congress)
Press Release