Obama is looting the Treasury to pay off insurers
The Obama administration will tell any lie and break any law to prevent the president’s signature health-care program from collapsing.
Insurance companies such as UnitedHealthcare and Aetna are losing billions trying to sell ObamaCare plans, and the risk is they’ll drop out at the end of 2016. No insurance companies means no ObamaCare.
In 2014, the White House tried to avert that disaster by promising insurers a taxpayer-funded bailout, but public outrage and quick action by Sen. Marco Rubio put a stop to it. Now the administration is at it again.
Desperate to keep insurers on board, the administration scrambled to find another pot of money. Unfortunately, once again, a big part of that money pot belongs to the public.
President Obama doesn’t seem to care. On Feb. 12, the administration announced that the money will be handed out to insurers — a whopping $7.7 billion this year alone.
But it’s not just expensive: That huge handout to the insurance industry is also illegal.
This is money you and everyone else who already has insurance are forced to pay, called a reinsurance fee. You pay the fee whether you buy your own plan or get covered at work, even if your employer self-insures. You may be clueless about it, but the fee is buried in your premium or taken out of your compensation.
The text of the Affordable Care Act is clear as a bell on what this money can be used for.
Some of these annual fees — adding up to billions a year — belong to the public, not the insurance companies. The law states a fixed share “shall be deposited into the general fund of the Treasury of the United States and may not be used” to offset insurance companies’ losses.
But the administration gave all of it to the insurance companies last year, and got away with that heist. So now they’re trying it again.
Anyone in the corporate world who misused funds that way would be headed to prison. This rogue administration is going to any length — including running afoul of the law — to keep insurers hooked into ObamaCare.
In the words of University of Houston law professor Seth Chandler, who tried to call attention to the crime several months ago, this is “an illegal diversion of funds . . . to enrich insurers.” Last year alone, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas got $549 million of these reinsurance funds, while Anthem Blue Cross of California got $401 million.
How did this fly under the radar last year? Because no one — especially members of Congress — has read the law. Insurance companies weren’t about to object to getting more money than the law allows.
Plus, the announcements of these payments were buried in mind-numbing federal agency releases. The latest such disclosure came late last Friday — heading into a holiday weekend.
This week, a few health scholars took notice, including Galen Institute senior fellow Doug Badger. He says the illegal maneuver is “designed to keep a sinking ship from hitting rock bottom.”
ObamaCare was sold on lies: You can keep your health plan if you like it. And keep your doctor if you like your doctor. Then, once it was passed, the administration resorted to a long string of lawless executive actions to keep an unworkable scheme going, despite the damage being done to employers, doctors and consumers.
The administration’s diversion of public funds to its insurance-company cronies is just the latest defiance of the law.
The president has illegally delayed the employer mandate repeatedly. He’s handing out free ObamaCare plans to illegal immigrants. Statutory deadlines are routinely ignored, and funds are slyly shifted from one program to another — the law be damned.
Ultimately, ObamaCare is imperiling not only our health and our nation’s economic growth, but even our nation’s most precious asset — the rule of law.
Betsy McCaughey is the author of “Beating Obamacare” and a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.