IRS health reform money gets GOP’s attention

Lawmakers ask the Obama administration for more details about the hundreds of millions of dollars reportedly going to the IRS for health reform implementation.

By — Posted April 19, 2012

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Republican Reps. Dave Camp and Charles Boustany Jr., MD, are pushing the Internal Revenue Service for more information about how much money the Obama administration might be diverting to the agency to aid the implementation of the health system reform law.

Camp, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, and Dr. Boustany, who chairs its oversight subcommittee, sent an April 10 letter to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman requesting the information. The missive was in response to recent reports that the White House has made plans to designate at least $500 million to the IRS to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“These reports are just the tip of the iceberg, as the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has warned that the IRS could need up to $10 billion to implement the Democrats’ health care law over the next decade,” the lawmakers said in a statement accompanying the letter. “This expansion of the IRS’ power and reach into Americans’ daily lives includes the IRS verifying that you have acceptable health care coverage, penalizing you if you don’t and increasing audits.”

In the letter, Camp, of Michigan, and Dr. Boustany, of Louisiana, ask for an update from the IRS on a previous request for the amount of reform implementation money that had been designated to the IRS. The lawmakers also ask how much additional funding and how many additional employees the IRS anticipates requiring during the next decade to implement the reform law, as well as the number of agency employees that already are working on implementation activities.

It always has been clear that the IRS would play a major role in rolling out the health reform law. The central requirement in the law that individuals obtain health coverage starting in 2014 or pay a penalty was designed to be enforced through the tax code.

But Republican lawmakers have criticized the White House for moving ahead so quickly on implementing the statute and designating health reform funding to federal agencies while the law faces legal challenges from states, businesses and others. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule by the end of June on whether the individual mandate — and the remainder of the law — is constitutional.

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