In her first appearance before the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee since Democrats' health care overhaul law passed last year, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius responded to a line of questioning from Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., about whether the estimated $500 billion in Medicare cuts were to be used in sustaining the program or paying for the law.
The Medicare actuary shed light on this so-called "double counting" last year in an April 22 memo. "In practice," he wrote, "the improved Part A financing cannot simultaneously be used to finance other Federal outlays (such as the coverage expansions under the PPACA) and to extend the trust fund, despite the appearance of this result from the respective accounting conventions."
In other words, the money can only be used once. However, during her testimony Friday, Sebelius finally acknowledged that the Obama administration had misrepresented its accounting:
“There is an issue here on the budget because your own actuary has said you can’t double-count,” Shimkus said. “You can’t count — they’re attacking Medicare on the CR when their bill, your law, cut $500 billion from Medicare.”
He continued: “Then you’re also using the same $500 billion to what? Say your funding health care. Your own actuary says you can’t do both. … What’s the $500 billion in cuts for? Preserving Medicare or funding the health-care law?
“Both,” Sebelius replied.