Update on Capitol Hill
May 14, Sylvia Burwell, President Obama’s nominee for HHS Secretary, appeared before the Senate Finance Committee for a confirmation hearing. Much like with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Burwell’s nomination, there was widespread support for the nominee. She is widely expected to be confirmed. Highlights from the hearing included witness testimony from Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) in support of her nomination; Burwell’s promise to work with Congress on a permanent repeal of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula; and her pledge to use the “full extent of the law” to recoup federal funds from states with failed ACA exchange websites. A vote on Burwell’s confirmation is expected to take place in the next few weeks.
Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced a bill on May 14 that would require states with “failed” ACA exchange websites to return federal funds used to build those websites back to the government. Specifically, the bill, the State Exchange Accountability Act, would require those states that abandon their own state-run exchanges to join the federal exchange run through Healthcare.gov and pay back all establishment and early innovator grants to the federal government over a 10-year period.