Will Republicans Fight Obama's Insurance Company Bailout?

Conn Carroll
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Posted: Nov 03, 2014 2:30 PM
Will Republicans Fight Obama's Insurance Company Bailout?

The Washington Examiner's Susan Ferrechio has a possible scoop buried in her post today on Republican efforts to peal back Obamacare after the election. Speaking of Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Ferrechio writes:

"Barrasso said the GOP would also take up legislation to block the Obama administration from reimbursing insurers who lose money in the healthcare exchanges."

This is likely a reference to the Obamacare "risk corridor" program which, according to a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform report, is set to bailout Obamacare insurers to the tune of $750 million in 2015 alone.

The problem with Barrasso's statement, however, is that new legislation will not be sufficient to prevent an Obamacare bailout. The risk corridor program was already created when Obamacare passed and Obama would veto any new legislation that repealed it.

Republicans still have other options. Both the Congressional Research Service and the Government Accountability Office have both concluded that while Obamacare did create the risk corridor program, it did not include any appropriations to pay for it. 

However, the GAO concluded in a September 2014 memo that the FY 2014 appropriations language for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (the agency that administers the risk corridor program) did authorize CMS to spend general CMS funds on the risk corridor program.

But, CMS also noted in that same memo, that if CMS wanted to spend money on the risk corridor program in FY 2015, similar language would also need to be in the FY 2015 appropriations bill.

That means that if Republicans are truly serious about stopping the Obamacare insurance bailout, they must include language in the upcoming continuing resolution that specifically forbids the CMS from spending general funds on the risk corridor program.

Will Republicans have the guts to include such language in the CR? 

This is ultimately a question for the House since that is where all spending bills must originate. But House Leadership has also made clear they want to avoid any legislative cliffs after the November election. If Obama and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (who will still be majority leader through the end of December no matter what happens Tuesday) refuse to pass a CR that does not allow CMS to bailout Obamacare insurers, is the House Leadership prepared to fight on the issue?

Or, wanting to avoid a legislative cliff, will they cave? 

And if they cave on this, what else will the Republican leadership cave on? 

Obama's executive amnesty?

Keystone?

EPA's carbon regulations?

If Obama knows congressional Republicans will avoid a appropriations fight at all cost, he is going to spend the next two years walking all over them.