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With fate of Obamacare in question, HHS cranks up pace of spending to implement the law

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By Doug Powers  •  June 24, 2012 11:19 AM

**Written by Doug Powers

They’re like kids with one parent who has given them cash to go to the candy store but who know they they might at any time get a call from the other parent telling them not to spend the money. Does the kid wait for the go-ahead from parent #2, or set a new world “get to the store to spend all the money” land speed record?

In the above semi-hypothetical example, the Supreme Court is parent #2 and the Obama administration and HHS are the kid in the store. Oh, and I forgot to mention that parent #1 gave the kid your money:

Conservatives wanted the White House to stop spending on the health care law until the Supreme Court rules on whether it’s constitutional.

But the administration has forged ahead, spending at least $2.7 billion since oral arguments in the case ended on March 28. That’s more than double the amount that was handed out in the three-month period leading up to the arguments, according to a POLITICO review of funding announcements from the Department of Health and Human Services.

While much — if not all — of this funding was in the pipeline well before March, the timeline for handing out specific funds is not set in stone, which gives the agency leeway over the kinds of dollars it has been handing out.

And the stakes have increased as the date of a Supreme Court ruling approaches, because money that is spent won’t have to be repaid, most likely. But remaining funds will dry up if the court strikes down the law.
[...]
The $2.7 billion includes grants and awards that have been handed out since the Supreme Court arguments — including more than $90 million in funds for health insurance cooperatives that HHS announced Friday afternoon.

By contrast, the administration gave out about $1 billion in grants, loans and other awards during the three months before the Supreme Court arguments.

There are two goals. The first is to obviously spend money faster than Nancy Pelosi at Botox Depot to get it into the predetermined pipelines. The second is to get the cumbersome wheels of implementation in motion so the administration can claim that if the Supreme Court overturns all or parts of Obamacare, people will be harmed and the money already spent will be wasted (the sudden concern for stewardship of taxpayer dollars should make for a nice addition to the “Great Moments in the History of Disingenuousness” series).

We’ll probably find out in the next few days which way the Supreme Court falls on Obamacare. Between that, the expected SCOTUS decision on the Arizona immigration law and the full House vote on the Holder contempt charge, it’s going to be a busy week. Until then, try not to get run over by HHS officials in a reckless hurry to spend spend spend!

**Written by Doug Powers

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