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The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) Is Legal — For Now — And Its Implications for Grants

Subscribers to the Seliger Funding Report (our e-mail newsletter) have seen the numerous RFPs related to the Affordable Care Act, and loyal blog readers have probably noticed our numerous posts on the issue. Unless you’ve been living in a media-free environment for the last couple of days, you’re also aware that the Supreme Court found the Act to be Constitutional. If it had not, the fate of the numerous discretionary grant programs authorized by the Act would be as uncertain as the fate of the peripheral characters in a horror movie.

But that’s not the end of the story.

It’s plausible that Mitt Romney will win in November, and it’s probable that Republicans will take the Senate, with the House a possibility; if that happens, it’s also plausible that Obamacare will be repealed, replaced, or significantly modified. Such changes would likely impact the dozens of discretionary, competitive grant programs that are larded throughout the Affordable Care Act. Even if these new grant programs are left more or less intact, many could face rescission anyway. Rescissions are rare, but certainly not impossible, and the Affordable Care Act will present a juicy target rescission-minded members of Congress.

Still, it will be more tempting to ax future spending without taking already allocated money away, and Federal grant making agencies know this. So we should see a gaggle of Affordable Care Act RFPs issued between now and November, as Federal agencies work to make sure they have as many grantees on the ground as possible, who will squawk if their grants are rescinded. Last week’s Funding Report included the Personal Responsibility Education Program; this week, DHHS released the Establishment of the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Exchanges program (for which only states are eligible)—and next week we might see even more.

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