ObamaCare: A Crony Capitalist’s Best Friend
By Marco Rubio
The Wall Street Journal
May 25, 2016
The evidence keeps mounting: Six years after being signed into law, ObamaCare is a costly and unsustainable disaster.
Look at what has happened in the past month alone. A federal court ruled that the Obama administration violated the law by spending money on ObamaCare subsidies without an appropriation from Congress.
In Florida, 15 health insurers are seeking an average increase in premiums of 17.7% for 2017. The continued raiding of Medicare Advantage—ObamaCare was projected in 2012 to cut $156 billion from the program over a decade—hurts many seniors in my home state and nationwide.
The health law’s sweeping mandates continue to target faith-based organizations like the nuns of the Little Sisters of the Poor. These nuns remain tied up in litigation because they rightfully believe that God and the Constitution’s religious-freedom protections are higher authorities than President Obama and his administration’s unconstitutional and liberal agenda.
ObamaCare is also bringing out corporate America’s worst crony-capitalist impulses. The health-insurance lobby has teamed up with trial lawyers to sue the federal government—through individual lawsuits and a $5 billion class action—for not following through on a sweetheart bailout deal buried in the law. This provision of ObamaCare would have required taxpayers to bail out insurers for losing money on the health-care exchanges.
I was the first person in Congress to take action to stop these bailouts. In late 2013 I introduced legislation to repeal this provision entirely and later another bill to make this so-called “risk corridors” program “budget neutral.” My conservative colleagues and I sounded the alarm about the likelihood of a taxpayer-funded bailout of health insurers (and were mocked as Chicken Littles for it). But we built a coalition to stop the bailouts.
When it came time to pass a spending bill at the end of 2014, we succeeded in making it the law of the land that the ObamaCare bailout program could not cost taxpayers a single cent—which ended up saving taxpayers $2.5 billion. In December of last year, we came back and repeated the feat. Now I am urging leaders in both the House and Senate to make this a priority and stop the bailout a third time.
That the health-insurance companies are suing to try to get their bailout is disgusting. The law—not to mention corresponding legal opinions issued by the federal government—makes clear that Congress must appropriate any net spending by the risk-corridor program.
In fact, one reason it was important to make clear in the law that the risk-corridor program must be budget-neutral was to protect the federal government from this exact kind of lawsuit that insurers have now filed against it. Because payments are being made only using fees paid by the insurance companies, the program is fulfilling its statutory obligation.
This assertion has been affirmed by professional attorneys from the Congressional Research Service, which has also said that the administration’s practice of making other payments to insurers under the ObamaCare reinsurance program “would appear to be in conflict with the plain text” of the law. Thus, the Obama administration should stop trying to figure out a way to bail out the insurers and instead fight back against these lawsuits.
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