California Healthline: Sebelius Says HHS ‘On Track’ To Implement ACA Insurance Exchanges

On Thursday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius assured House lawmakers that her department is “on track” to implement the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges, one day after she offered the same assurance to a Senate panel, Modern Healthcare reports.

Sebelius was testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, which convened a hearing on HHS’ budget under President Obama’s fiscal year 2014 budget proposal.

However, Sebelius acknowledged that HHS does not have a contingency plan in place if the department does not meet the Oct. 1 deadline to begin enrollment in the online marketplaces.

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) — vice chair of the subcommittee and the lawmaker who queried Sebelius about the backup plan — said, “You’ve had three years and billions of dollars … I think Congress needs to hold your agency accountable,” adding that lawmakers would have to reconsider allocating any additional funding for the exchanges if HHS fails to launch the exchanges on Jan. 1, 2014.

Sebelius noted that Congress approved significantly less funding for the implementation of the exchanges than HHS originally anticipated it would need. “I think the [Congressional Budget Office] analysis when the [ACA] was passed was that we’d need about $10 billion in implementation money,” but “$1 billion was appropriated,” Sebelius said, adding that HHS has “judiciously used those resources” (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 4/18).

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