Obama administration creates slush fund to bribe insurance companies to keep rates low
That's not how the administration is characterizing the new regulations buried in dozens of new rules released last week. But read this and tell me it isn't exactly as I describe it; a slush fund that will make payments to multi-billion dollar companies - as long as they keep premium increases low in advance of the November elections.
The Obama administration has quietly adjusted key provisions of its signature healthcare law to potentially make billions of additional taxpayer dollars available to the insurance industry if companies providing coverage through the Affordable Care Act lose money.
The move was buried in hundreds of pages of new regulations issued late last week. It comes as part of an intensive administration effort to hold down premium increases for next year, a top priority for the White House as the rates will be announced ahead of this fall's congressional elections.
Administration officials for months have denied charges by opponents that they plan a "bailout" for insurance companies providing coverage under the healthcare law.
They continue to argue that most insurers shouldn't need to substantially increase premiums because safeguards in the healthcare law will protect them over the next several years.
But the change in regulations essentially provides insurers with another backup: If they keep rate increases modest over the next couple of years but lose money, the administration will tap federal funds as needed to cover shortfalls.
Although little noticed so far, the plan was already beginning to fuel a new round of attacks Tuesday from the healthcare law's critics.
"If conservatives want to stop the illegal Obamacare insurance bailout before it starts they must start planning now," wrote Conn Carroll, an editor of the right-leaning news site Townhall.com.
On Capitol Hill, Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee began circulating a memo on the issue and urging colleagues to fight what they are calling "another end-run around Congress."
Another promise, another lie. These people have no shame whatsoever and have shown they will do anything - legal or not - to save their Senate majority.
The administration swears this won't add to the deficit - that funds will come out of HHS appropriations. That's hardly the point. It's another congressional bypass that immorally funnels money to companies that don't need it as a bribe in order to lessen the political impact of premium increases for political purposes.
Can Congress stop it? Not as long as Barack Obama is president. He will veto any attempt to eliminate the slush fund and dare the Democratic Senate to overtrurn it.
Unless the outcry is loud and sustained against it, that isn't likely to happen.