A group of Senate Republicans are pressing House Speaker John Boehner to oppose funding a program contained in the Affordable Care Act, potentially triggering another government shutdown again this fall.
The 14 lawmakers, led by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, are opposing the risk-corridor component of the health care exchanges, a temporary program designed to prevent insurance premiums from going up too rapidly during the early years of Obamacare implementation. According to Think Progress, the provision allows the federal government to take some of the profits from insurers who overestimated their claims and set premiums too high and give them to insurers who under-estimate and lose money. The goal is to stabilize the health care market and keep premiums level.
Appropriations for 2014 allowed the program, but if Republicans omit the language or prohibit spending on the program for 2015, it could lead to a standoff similar to last year’s, which shut down the government for over two weeks in October.
In a letter, the Senators cite a report from the Government Accountability Office, saying the administration will need additional funding in order to make payments under the program in fiscal year 2015. They are urging Boehner to oppose what they refer to as an “Obamacare tax bailout,” saying that taxpayers could be responsible for bailing out insurance companies that suffer losses.
Other prominent Senators, including Ted Cruz of Texas, John McCain of Arizona, and Rand Paul of Kentucky joined Rubio in the letter, which concludes by accusing the Obama administration of ignoring the Constitution.
“Unfortunately, President Obama and his administration have exhibited their intent to disregard the law and ignore the Constitution. At the Constitutional Convention, our nation’s founders debated ways to ensure that the Executive would not spend money without Congressional authorization. They agreed that Congress should control public funds (not the President or executive branch agencies) because Congress directly represents the people. The President intends to ignore Congress’s explicit and exclusive authority by spending money on the risk corridor program without an appropriation from Congress.
The American people expect us, as Members of Congress, to fulfill our Oath of Office and defend the Constitution. Therefore, we must act to protect Congress’ power of the purse and prohibit the Obama administration from dispersing unlawful risk corridor payments providing for an Obamacare taxpayer bailout.”
The Senators made no suggestions in the letter, which Roll Call published in its entirety, as to how to undercut the program, and House Speaker Boehner has not commented on their suggestion.
A funding bill will have to be passed in the lame duck session this fall to keep the government open after December 11, and the sharply divided government has been the cause of several shutdown threats in the past few years, including one reported by The Inquisitr just last month.
However, with elections just around the corner, it is unlikely top Republicans will risk another major government shutdown after the backlash they received from the American people last year.
What do you think? Are we facing another government shutdown over Obamacare?
[Image via Lady Patriots]