Politics

House Republicans press Sebelius on ‘numerous’ missed deadlines under Obama health-care law

Key Republican lawmakers are pressing President Obama’s top health-care official for answers on why the administration has missed “numerous” early deadlines in implementing Obamacare.

The missed deadlines “are some of the most basic provisions of this law,” the June 16 letter says, the administration’s “failure to meet these deadlines does not bode well for the [law’s] more complicated provisions.”

As reported earlier by The Daily Caller, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has already missed as many as four deadlines under the law – not on any major regulations — but still a worrisome trend, critics say.

Congressional staff and industry representatives had been asking HHS for a timeline specifying when it will issue the numerous regulations required by the law. They were shocked to find the agency has not produced such a document, one aide said.

The issue is important because vast industry sectors are trying to plan their own implementations of the health-care law and most of the details remain in bureaucrats’ hands, leaving a vacuum of uncertainty about the final burdens the law will impose.

The missed deadlines include creating task forces on breast cancer and Alaskan health care, publishing a list of new authorities granted under the law, and work on defining “underserved” areas that receive higher health-care subsidies.

HHS spokeswoman Jessica Santillo has noted the administration had already implemented numerous parts of the health care law in advance of deadlines.

Rep. Dave Camp, Michigan Republican and ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee, noted the missed deadlines stand in contrast to an aggressive public relations push by the White House and outside groups to sell the law.

“While the administration is focused on an aggressive, taxpayer-funded public relations campaign to combat the health care bill’s increasingly high disapproval numbers, they have missed numerous implementation deadlines. It is important that we carry out our congressional oversight responsibilities,” Camp said.

While missing deadlines, the administration has found time to send promotional material touting the law’s benefit, including a brochure for senior citizens and post cards from the IRS advertising tax breaks under the law.

The letter from House Republicans – it was signed by every Ways and Means Committee Republican besides Reps. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Devin Nunes of California – show the GOP will seek to keep the heat on the administration over the issue.

HHS, the IRS and other agencies are facing a monumental workload in implementing the law in part because it leaves so much discretion to federal agencies in implementing it.

Some critics of the law have feared spotlighting missed deadlines under the law might provoke HHS and others to rush, resulting in mistakes and unintended consequences.