Republicans Accuse Obamacare Administrator of Misleading Congress

Administrator stands by testimony

CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt / AP
May 10, 2016

Andy Slavitt, the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, gave false testimony to Congress on the state-based exchanges established under Obamacare, according to a report by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Slavitt was questioned about the status of taxpayer dollars invested in state-based exchanges at a hearing on December 8, 2015, according to the committee report. The hearing was held to determine how state-based exchanges spent grant money.

"When asked under oath about the status of American taxpayer dollars invested in the exchanges, Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in December 2015 that [the state-based exchanges] returned over $200 million in grant dollars to the federal government," the report states. "But information and documents CMS recently provided to the committee fail to corroborate Mr. Slavitt’s testimony and raise significant questions regarding the truthfulness of his statements."

The committee requested documents from the agency to corroborate Slavitt’s claim but found that the agency only had recovered $21.5 million in federal grant dollars from the exchanges. Slavitt overstated the amount returned to the Treasury by nearly $180 million.

"Mr. Slavitt’s testimony misled the committee in two ways: he misstated the amount of grant money returned to the Treasury, and he wrongfully implied that the funds were returned because of improper spending and CMS’ oversight efforts," the committee wrote.

"CMS did not recover any of the funds due to improper spending," the report states. "Instead of recouping funds from the exchanges, CMS simply ‘de-obligated’ these funds because the time for the grant had expired or the funds were no longer needed."

"It is troubling that the administration has had every opportunity to correct the record or back up the numbers but has failed to do so," said Reps. Fred Upton (R., Mich.) and Tim Murphy (R., Penn.), who represent the committee. "There is no doubt that implementing this massive law is an impossible task, but the facts are the facts. Anything short of the truth under oath will not be tolerated."

An agency spokesman said that Slavitt stands by his testimony.

"The Acting Administrator stands by his testimony," spokesman Aaron Albright said. "Mr. Slavitt clearly stated in his testimony that the over $200 million returned was unspent dollars or improperly spent dollars from the grant program."

"CMS has always been clear with the Committee, providing a detailed accounting of the grant funds on request, as well as multiple briefings and calls for the Chairman and his staff," Albright said.