Government watchdog unable to figure out how much the administration is spending on parts of Obamacare
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is unable to supply the Government Accountability Office with precise information on how much the administration has spent on line items like PR, polling, and other Obamacare promotion.
It's also unclear if they have enough personnel to get the job done.
Federal health insurance officials can't tell Congress how much the government has spent since 2010 selling Obamacare to a key segment of the market, according to the Government Accountability Office.
The accounting system used by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid, which manages Obamacare, doesn't track "expenditure totals for CCIIO-related polling, focus groups, or advertising and other public relations activities," GAO said in a report made public Monday.
The CCIIO is the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, which is part of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid. It's main focus is overseeing implementation of the Obamacare provisions that apply to the private health insurance market and the health insurance exchanges created by the program.
Federal officials were also unable to say if they have enough employees to carry out CCIIO's duties under Obamacare because, GAO said, "the staff reassignment information provided to GAO was not complete, was not supported by documentary evidence, and could not be verified."
The only verifiable data GAO said CMS could provide was "CMS's estimates for total obligations for fiscal year 2014, which was $3.7 billion; the number of staff as of September 30, 2013, which was 347; and total salary expenditures from March 2010 through fiscal year 2013, which were $79.8 million."
Otherwise, GAO said, the inability of CMS to provide credible data on what CCIIO is doing in a timely fashion means "Congress and other decision makers may not have access to timely and reliable CCIIO-related information that they may need to make resource allocation decisions and assessments of program performance."
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., said the GAO report demonstrates that "the Obama administration has tried to hide the ball from Congress on just how much it is spending on the health care law.
This is not surprising as we've seen time and time again the administration treating information about Obamacare as if they were nuclear secrets rather than being transparent and open about just what this boondoggle is costing us.
The information is probably somewhere - it's hard to imagine CMS not knowing how much their spending on these things. But by failing to supply the GAO with the figures, they can avoid the political embarrassment of overspending for an unpopular law.
Congress should haul the CMS managers before a committee hearing and force them to reveal the numbers. That appears to be the only way to get any cooperation from this administration.