Healthcare Sector Under Scrutiny: Congressional Oversight of the Affordable Care Act by Daniel F. Donovan and William Clarkson


"I've long maintained that there are three possible routes to repeal of ObamaCare: the courts, the presidential election, and our constitutional responsibility for oversight. With two of them having come up short, the third and final of these becomes more important than ever."
- House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-OH)

In a post-election letter to the House Republican Caucus, Speaker Boehner announced that congressional oversight will play the leading role in House Republican efforts to prevent implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) during the 113th Congress. Since taking control of the House in 2010, Republican committee leaders have initiated multiple inquiries and investigations, held numerous hearings, and joined with their like-minded Senate colleagues in a concerted effort to repeal the ACA in whole or in part. While the primary target of congressional oversight will remain the federal agencies charged with implementation, healthcare companies and government contractors will also be scrutinized or investigated during the 113th Congress.

As Speaker Boehner noted last Congress, "Vigorous oversight of the health care law by the House can be expected and, in fact, is already under way." Over the last several months, multiple House committees and Senate Republicans have stepped up ACA-related oversight activities, focusing on federal health agencies' efforts to implement some of the ACA's more controversial provisions. In some cases, government contractors have been swept into the inquiries, either directly or indirectly, and have experienced the negative publicity that typically accompanies such partisan inquiries. For example, recent inquiries have focused on government contractors involved with American Health Benefit Exchanges, Medicare Advantage demonstration projects, and public relations companies involved with ACA implementation.

In addition to these inquiries, congressional committees will likely focus on other ACA-related issues, such as the establishment of the Independent Payment Advisory Board and implementation of the ACA-mandated excise tax on medical devices. It is also likely that House oversight committees will play a significant role in framing the Republican argument for significant reforms to the Medicare and Medicaid programs as Congress works to craft a long-term deficit reduction deal.


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