Senate bill would require states to pay back feds for failed ObamaCare exchanges

Two Republican senators introduced a bill Wednesday that would punish states who completely scrap their state-run ObamaCare exchanges, requiring them to pay back the federal government for the money that was wasted.

The bill by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., would apply to states who forego their own state exchange in favor of the federal marketplace.

“The American people are sick and tired of writing a blank check for the health care law’s complete failures,” Barrasso said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Barrasso confirmed to the bill so far would only apply to Oregon, which decided last month to abolish its state-run exchange and switch to the federal system after months of problems.

Several other states of the 14 running their own exchanges have encountered significant problems thus far with their exchanges, including Maryland, Hawaii, Nevada and Massachusetts, but none have completely given up yet.

The bill, which was also sponsored by Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. and John McCain, R-Ariz., would dictate that a state that foregoes its exchange would pay back 10 percent of the taxpayer funds every year for 10 years.

Barrasso said in a floor speech Wednesday that the bill is a solution that is only fair to the taxpayers, some of whom funded both the problematic and a failed state exchange.

“Taxpayers shouldn't have to pay twice for the mistakes of incompetent state bureaucrats who couldn't set up a working health care exchange,” he said.

Hatch said in a statement American taxpayers have been forced to fund “administrative ineptitude” repeatedly, and he wants it to stop.

“Hard-working American taxpayers should not be forced to foot the bill for what has already turned into an almost $500 million dollar boondoggle,” Hatch said.  “This bill rightly restores accountability by ensuring that the hundreds of millions of dollars wasted by these failed exchanges are returned."

The senators say that the federal government has awarded $4.7 billion in grants to states to fund their own exchanges, according to the Congressional Research Service. According to the HHS, Oregon alone has received five grants to establish its state exchange, totaling over $300 million.