Several Republican senators introduced a bill Wednesday requiring states that failed to produce viable Obamacare exchanges to reimburse federal taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, and Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrrasso introduced the legislation Wednesday.
“Hard-working American taxpayers should not be forced to foot the bill for what has already turned into an almost $500 million boondoggle,” Sen. Hatch said in a statement.
The bill would only apply to states who give up entirely on their exchanges and belatedly choose to have the federal government take over and operate their Obamacare marketplace. It would require states to repay ten percent of their federal grant funding each year over a ten year period.
“States that scrap their state-run Obamacare exchanges are admitting they’ve wasted millions of dollars in federal grants,” Sen. Barrasso said. “It’s only fair that states have to pay American taxpayers and the federal government back for their total incompetence.”
The four worst-performing state exchanges — Nevada, Massachusetts, Maryland and Oregon — spent $474 million in federal funding.
Oregon is so far the only state to give up on its state exchange entirely and move into the federal HealthCare.gov system, but more may join later this year. Massachusetts’ state exchange is attempting to rebuild its own exchange over the next several months but is simultaneously preparing to join HealthCare.gov if they’re unable to finish the job in time.
Maryland, like Massachusetts, has scrapped its website after spending $118 million and is attempting to build a new one on its own. Massachusetts is looking for another $121 million in federal funding to develop its new state-based exchange. (RELATED: Massachusetts Obamacare Exchange To Ask Feds For Another $121 Million For Website Re-do)
The bill is being co-sponsored by Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss, Tom Coburn, Mike Enzi and John McCain.
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