Jobs, Funding Related to Health Care Law at Risk

April 19, 2012
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The Department of Health and Human Services building is pictured. | Jay Westcott/POLITICO

There’s little precedent for axing funding after a law is struck down.
 

Should Obama Care be rescinded by the constitutional conundrum and the decision of Supreme Court to throw out, it will take some time to unravel what has already taken place.

Sometimes it’s better to cut your losses.  Untold millions of dollars have already been spent forming new agencies and staffing them.

If the Supreme Court pulls the plug on health reform, winding it down could be almost as contentious as building it up in the first place.

And the hundreds of federal employees in the agencies created or expanded by the health law could find themselves at the center of a new round of fighting. Those positions rely on Affordable Care Act dollars that the court could take away by holding the whole law unconstitutional.

A lot could still be left up to the White House and Congress to work out — and the decisions would affect the new offices and agencies, the livelihood of the men and women who work in them and status of the multiyear contracts and projects they have embarked on.

It’s likely that some in the health reform workforce would get reabsorbed into other Health and Human Services offices, where a number worked prior to the health law’s passage two years ago. But some could end up without a job — and without their health benefits.

The offices created to implement the health reform law include the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight and the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation. The consumer office is writing the health law’s new insurance rules and the Innovation Center is experimenting with different payment models for entitlement programs.

Neither Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services nor the White House had a comment for this story, but HHS records show about 500 people work for these two offices. A recent Senate Republican analysis of federal jobs data concluded that thousands more new HHS workers are busy implementing the health law, with about 3,000 new positions in the Office of the Secretary alone.

It’s complicated, and I find little satisfaction in the morass created by an irresponsible congress who did not take the time to read the law. It’s more than ‘I told you so.”  How much will it cost to take apart ‘Rubik’s  cube ? 

Removing the freshly poured foundation, and filling a deep hole still seems far less complicated to me than figuring out procedure codes and how to link them with ICD diagnostic codes to submit a bill to patients, insurers and Medicare.  And  oh yes those codes are about explode exponentially.