The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) said in budget documents Wednesday that it expects to spend $4.4 billion by the end of this year on grants to help states set up new insurance exchanges. HHS had estimated last year that the grants would cost $2 billion.
The department also is asking Congress for another $1.5 billion to help set up federally run exchanges in states that do not establish their own.
The request for extra money comes at a critical time — exchanges are supposed to be up and running in every state by October. But it is also sure to meet hostility in Congress, which just last month denied HHS’s last request for additional funds. HHS Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources Ellen Murray punted Wednesday when asked about the consequences if Congress also denies the new request.