HHS Nominee Suggests Failed Obamacare Exchanges Will Have To Pay Back Taxpayers

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The Obama administration’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary suggested at a confirmation hearing Wednesday that failed state Obamacare exchanges may have to pay for their mistakes.

During the Senate Finance Committee hearing, ranking Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah went after the mismanagement of federal Obamacare funding by several of the 14 state-run exchanges.

“These states have received more than $1.25 billion to plan and build their exchanges. Now some of these states are looking for additional federal funds to continue their failed experimentation, at least in my view,” Hatch began. “Do you believe that these states that so negligently managed their funds should be required to reimburse the taxpayers for their incredible failures?”

“I think what I would say yes to is that we need to understand in where the federal government and the taxpayer has had funds misused, we need to use the full extent of the law to get those funds back for the taxpayer,” HHS nominee Sylvia Matthews Burwell replied.

Hatch proposed a bill Wednesday morning, along with Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso, that would require states that abandon their own exchanges and have the federal government run their Obamacare marketplace out of HealthCare.gov to repay all federal funds that went into the failed projects. (RELATED: Republican Senators Demand Failed Obamacare Exchanges Pay Back Federal Government)

Currently, Oregon is the only state to have officially opted to have the Obama administration take over its exchange, but Massachusetts is considering the option as well.

Hatch also questioned whether Burwell would approve more federal funding for flailing state exchanges. The nominee wouldn’t rule it out.

“One, we have to understand what went wrong. Two, when we do understand that, as I said , we need to go to the full extent of the law, if there are contractors or others who have misled,” Burwell said, “And three, I think we need to make sure that we both learn from the mistakes of the exchanges that aren’t working and learn from the exchanges that are.”

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