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How come the Department of Health and Human Services didn’t have to shut down its efforts to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act during the recent partial federal government shutdown?
The reason comes down to the law itself. Members of the Democratic party, who were in the majority in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate when the law was passed through only their unanimous effort, made sure that the law included a special fund that would be used to implement its provisions—the Health Insurance Reform Implementation Fund (HIRIF).
They set aside $1 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services to support not just its implementation efforts (the troubled Healthcare.gov website and the IT systems that support it), but also other those of other federal government agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service.
They’ve been spending that money ever since. The chart below shows how they’ve either spent, or have proposed to spend, that money for each of the federal government’s fiscal years from 2010 through 2014:
Through the end of Fiscal Year 2013, which ended on September 30, 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services indicates that it has spent $811 million of its $1 billion slush fund, which indicates that they have $189 million left to spend before they run out of money.
They were planning to spend $163 million in Obamacare implentation activities in the current fiscal year (FY2014). However, you can bet that they were planning to spend that money on things other than trying to make the Healthcare.gov website and the IT systems they built to support it work.
Something, not just the Healthcare.gov website, isn’t going to get done….
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Fiscal Year 2012 Budget in Brief. Advancing the Health, Safety, and Well-Being of Our People. [PDF Document]. 2011.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Fiscal Year 2013 Budget in Brief. Strengthening Health and Opportunity for All Americans. [PDF Document]. 2012.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Fiscal Year 2014 Budget in Brief. Strengthening Health and Opportunity for All Americans. [PDF Document]. 2013.