Health Subcommittee members Leonard Lance (NJ-07) and Bill Cassidy (LA-06) used today's House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Hearing, "Protecting Americans from Illegal Bailouts and Plan Cancellations Under the President's Health Care Law," to scrutinize the possibility of a taxpayer funded bailout of insurance companies under ObamaCare and how best to stop unlawful payments under the risk corridor program, the mechanism by which payments would be made. The hearing focused on more legal questions regarding ObamaCare since the risk corridor program -- as written in statute -- not only lacks an appropriation of funds for the purpose of administering the program, but also has the potential to operate at a significant cost to American taxpayers.
"There are two questions at work: does the law allow the Administration to cover insurance company loses and are taxpayers going to have to foot the bill. Taxpayers need to be protected from more bailouts and we need to ensure that the Administration is following the letter of the law. I thank Dr. Cassidy for working hard to protect taxpayers and small businesses from a potential financial liability," said Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07), the lead sponsor of H.R. 4406 and H.R. 5175 each designed to shield taxpayers from an insurer bailout.
"Americans' healthcare costs are going up. Individuals and families are paying more in out-of-pocket costs upfront, while their tax dollars are being spent behind the scenes to prop-up Obamacare exchanges. Only Congress can appropriate funding for this. The Obama administration wishes to bypass constitutional restrictions and give hard working taxpayer's money to insurance companies to bail out Obamacare. This is wrong and I oppose these bailouts," said Congressman Bill Cassidy (LA-06), the lead cosponsor of Lance's Protecting Americans from Illegal Bailouts Act.
The implementation of the risk corridor program has raised more serious legal questions regarding the Administration's actions. Without an appropriation from Congress, any payments delivered to cover the loses of insurers would be illegal as the statute does not authorize or appropriate taxpayer funds to do so. Lance and Cassidy have suggested the backstop insurers enjoy are meant to lure their participation in volatile exchanges. Last week's split court decisions regarding the ability of the IRS to issue subsidies to those in non-federal exchanges further complicates the viability of the exchanges and increases the possibility of insurance company loses.
Full Committee Chairman Fred Upton (MI-06) thanked Lance and Cassidy in his opening statement: "I would like to thank Mr. Lance and Dr. Cassidy for introducing legislation that would protect our constituents from footing the bill for insurance company losses and stop the administration from circumventing the rule of law."