Sebelius seeks no new money for US healthcare law
* HHS's 2011 budget request unchanged even with new law
* Republican says Obama ultimately will seek more money
WASHINGTON, April 21 (Reuters) - The Obama administration does not plan to seek additional money in next year's Health and Human Services Department budget to implement the new U.S. healthcare reform law, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on Wednesday.
Testifying before a House of Representatives Appropriations subcommittee, Sebelius said the $911 billion HHS budget request for fiscal year 2011, which begins Oct. 1, remains the same even after Congress passed the healthcare overhaul.
The law, which among other things aims to expand health insurance coverage to more than 30 million uninsured people, gave HHS vast new responsibilities. The roughly $1 trillion legislation included $1 billion for HHS to implement the law.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that HHS could need as much as $2 billion a year over the next 10 years to cover the cost of putting in place insurance market reforms and changes to federal health programs under the law, which was passed by Congress and signed by Obama last month.
Republican Representative Todd Tiahrt predicted that the administration will end up asking for more money to implement the law.
Tiahrt indicated that the $5 billion in the law to finance temporary state-based high-risk pools for uninsured people with pre-existing medical conditions will not be enough. Some healthcare analysts also have said more money will be needed.
"It is very clear the president hasn't asked for enough money to implement his healthcare plan," Tiahrt said.
Sebelius declined to say whether the money provided for high-risk pools will be enough, telling the panel it was not yet clear how many people will participate in the insurance pools. The program is set to expire in 2014 when new insurance exchanges, in which people and businesses can shop for medical coverage, are scheduled to be in operation.
Sebelius told the panel that her department plans to move aggressively to ensure that the insurance exchanges are in place by the 2014 deadline.
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