Saturday, February 28

Team Obama pays $3 Billion to insurance companies without congressional appropriation, claims it doesn't need authorization

The avalanche of illegal and unconstitutional acts by the emperor and his supporters continues. 

The latest disclosed outrage involves some $3 Billion in payments made by Treasury to insurance companies, although congress had not appropriated any money for that purpose.

The law called Obamacare--rammed through congress in the dead of night back when both houses were Dem-controlled--forced insurers to subsidize out-of-pocket costs for low income individuals, thus capping the health care costs to those policy holders.   

In exchange for capping these charges, the federal government would compensate insurers so they didn't lose money.  Otherwise the big insurance companies would never have signed on to the deal.

Congress never authorized any money to make such payments to insurers in its annual appropriations for 2014, but--prepare to be shocked--the Department of Health and Human Services, with the cooperation of the U.S. Treasury, made them anyway.

On Feb. 3 House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan and Rep. Fred Upton, chairman of  House Energy and Commerce Committee, wrote Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, asking for “a full explanation for, and all documents relating to” the administration’s decision to make the cost-sharing payments without congressional authorization.

Last Wednesday the Treasury Department replied by letter to Ryan, describing the program and revealing that $2.997 billion in such payments had been made in 2014, but didn't say where the money had come from.  The letter also failed to explain who made the decision to make the payments, or under what authority they were made.

Instead of detailing the basis for making the payments without appropriations, the Treasury letter claimed the matter was subject to a lawsuit by the speaker of the House, and referred Ryan to the Department of Justice.

In a brief filed in that lawsuit, DOJ lawyers claimed that the payments did NOT require annual appropriation. “The cost sharing reduction payments are being made as part of a mandatory payment program that Congress has fully appropriated,” the brief read.

But this argument is undercut by the administration’s own previous budget request.  For fiscal year 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (the division of Health and Human Services that implements the program), asked Congress to appropriate $4 billion for the reimbursements that year and another $1.4 billion “advance appropriation” for the first quarter of fiscal year 2015, “to permit CMS to reimburse issuers …”

In making that request CMS was in effect acknowledging that it needed congressional appropriations to make the payments.  But when Congress rejected the request, the administration went ahead and made the payments anyway.

The argument that annual appropriations are required to make payments is also backed up by a report from the Congressional Research Service, which has differentiated between the tax credit subsidies that Obamacare provides to individuals to help them purchase insurance, and the cost-sharing payments to insurers.

Over the next decade, reimbursements to insurers are projected by the Congressional Budget Office to cost taxpayers nearly $150 billion.

Oh, these payments are different from the *premium subsidies* paid by the federal government to induce low-income people to "buy" health insurance.  Those payments will cost another $400 billion or so over the next decade.

But...but...but...didn't Obama and Pelosi tell us the Affordable Care Act would provide health insurance to all the poor without costing the taxpayers a dime?  That *everyone* would save money?  If I recall correctly, the emperor's exact words were "An average of $2,500 per family."

Oh, I got it:  That was for people who didn't pay any federal tax.  Cool.


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