The Obama administration is silently diverting $500 million to the Internal Revenue Service to implement President Barack Obama’s signature piece of legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to The Hill.
The funds represent only a fraction of what is needed for the agency to implement the health care law, and the funds have been provided outside of the normal appropriations process.
“The law contains dozens of targeted appropriations to implement specific provisions,” The Hill reports. “It also gave the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) a $1 billion implementation fund, to use as it sees fit.”
The Department of Health and Human Services plans to drain the entire implementation fund by September — before the presidential election — and roughly half of the $1 billion will go to the IRS.
Roughly $200 million has been transferred to the IRS over the past two years, and HHS plans to transfer over $300 million this year. These transfers allow the IRS to minimize expenditures related to the law’s implementation as a share of the agency’s budget.
In fact, The Hill notes that “the tax agency requested $8 million next year to implement the individual mandate, and said the money would not pay for any new employees.”
An IRS spokeswoman did not disclose how much the agency has spent so far on implementing the individual health insurance mandate.
According to the GAO, the transfers are legal and the $1 billion was set aside for “federal” implementation activities, so they can be used by any agency.
Under the Affordable Care Act the IRS has many responsibilities, including enforcing the individual mandate and a slew of new taxes and fees, as well as administering subsidies to help low-income people obtain insurance, which is the most expensive part of the new law.
This recent move is not unprecedented for the administration, as it has moved aggressively in the past to implement policies related to the health care law. In fact, the administration is moving so quickly that funds provided by the bill have started to dry up, according to budget documents provided by congressional staff.
Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments about the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, once again bringing the controversial legislation back into the public eye.
The bill continues to remain unpopular and most Americans favor repealing the law, according to recent polls.
A recent Rasmussen poll found that 56 percent of likely voters favor repeal while only 37 percent oppose repeal. Furthermore, a Quinnipiac poll found that “voters say 50 – 39 percent, including 51 – 37 percent among independent voters, that the U.S. Supreme Court should overturn Obama’s health care reform law.”
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