Will HHS bother to provide a legal justification for ObamaCare’s risk corridor program? Inquiring Republicans want to know

posted at 8:31 pm on June 12, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

The Obama administration has lately been attempting to calm the fears of a jittery insurance industry that’s rather concerned about its long-term profitability should the ObamaCare insurance marketplaces not turn out according to plan. In February, the Obama administration was toying with the idea of extending the bailout risk-corridor program — designed to provide money to insurance companies struggling to make ends meet, should the need arise during ObamaCare’s initial phases — beyond its original sunset date set for 2016; and in May, the administration assured insurance companies worried about “unexpectedly” high premiums that they would break the program’s original budget-neutral provision and find even more moolah for the insurance companies if need be. As CMS put it in the relevant regulatory filing, “In the unlikely event of a shortfall for the 2015 program year, HHS recognizes that the Affordable Care Act requires the Secretary to make full payments to issuers. In that event, HHS will use other sources of funding for the risk corridors payments, subject to the availability of appropriations.”

Mmm, hmm. Where, pray tell, might these appropriations come from, if not with the approval of Congress? And, if it comes to that, does the administration really have the authority to carry out this risk-corridor program at its own discretion, at all? This is pretty much the same question Sen. Marco Rubio asked of the administration last fall, and evidently, the White House has yet to deign to provide answers. Via the WFB:

Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R., Mich.) sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell on Tuesday, asking whether her agency has the statutory authority for the risk corridor program, which some have called a bailout of the insurance industry.

“Under current law, payments made under the risk corridor program would constitute an unlawful transfer of potentially billions of taxpayer dollars to insurers offering qualified health plans under the president’s health care law,” Sessions and Upton Wrote. …

“HHS may not make payments under Section 1342 absent additional congressional action appropriating funds for such payments,” they wrote.  “Without an explicit appropriation, any money spent on the risk corridor program would be based on an illegal transfer of funds and your agency could be held in violation of the Antideficiency Act.”

The letter raises concerns that HHS has “left open the possibility that it will make payments to health insurance companies under the risk corridor program without seeking additional funding from Congress.”

Sessions and Upton ask Burwell to kindly provide them with HHS’s independent legal analysis on the matter, as well as with a list of the funding sources from which it believes it has the authority to cough up the cash on demand. I do so wonder if the White House will bother to get around to it this time, or even pretend to care about providing legal justifications for what basically amounts to them making things up as they go along.


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Nope.

Next question.

joekenha on June 12, 2014 at 8:33 PM

Obey the law? Why should this regime start now?

rbj on June 12, 2014 at 8:35 PM

Inquiring Republicans want to know

…they’re always “Inquiring”!…that’s the big problem…that’s all they do!

KOOLAID2 on June 12, 2014 at 8:36 PM

Why bother? It’s not as if the GOP will do anything about it.

will77jeff on June 12, 2014 at 8:37 PM

“I will make it legal” – Emperor Palpatine.

I’m not sure what all the hand wringing is about.

Obama does not, has not, and will not care about the law

He’s proven time and time again that he’ll do what he wants, constitution be damned.

Only impeachment may make him take notice and then it has to be an all or nothing game with Obama forcibly removed from office which the Republicans cannot do without help from the Democrats who are complicit in their treasonous behavior to destroy this country. (And I do not use those words lightly).

But, by all means… lets talk about this some more…

Skywise on June 12, 2014 at 8:37 PM

Hearings and inquiries = no results

31giddyup on June 12, 2014 at 8:38 PM

Obama wouldn’t try anything illegal in fear of being impeached.

It’s a joke.

Buddahpundit on June 12, 2014 at 8:41 PM

I do so wonder if the White House will bother to get around to it this time, or even pretend to care about providing legal justifications for what basically amounts to them making things up as they go along.

Yes, all of that. But whats missing from the bubbly stew of ObamaCare is the insurance companies’ position. Don’t they have shareholders? Have those shareholders been informed of the risk of a false promise?

Why isn’t the stocks of these companies being hammered by Wall Street and the executives being hammered at stockholder meetings?

Something doesn’t add up.

BobMbx on June 12, 2014 at 8:41 PM

Hearings and inquiries = no results

31giddyup on June 12, 2014 at 8:38 PM

Sadly, no.
And laws mean nada anymore.

bazil9 on June 12, 2014 at 8:46 PM

It’s a joke.

Buddahpundit on June 12, 2014 at 8:41 PM

One big effing colossal joke.

bazil9 on June 12, 2014 at 8:48 PM

Jeff Sessions seems like a straight shooter to me. Hope that remains the case.

Bmore on June 12, 2014 at 8:48 PM

Yes, all of that. But whats missing from the bubbly stew of ObamaCare is the insurance companies’ position. Don’t they have shareholders? Have those shareholders been informed of the risk of a false promise?

Why isn’t the stocks of these companies being hammered by Wall Street and the executives being hammered at stockholder meetings?

Something doesn’t add up.

BobMbx on June 12, 2014 at 8:41 PM

It’s not “false” until they have to book the money or debt – Right now the only thing on the books is the increased number of insurance policies and the government subsidies so the books look good. The costs are back-ended and won’t make book until later this year. Analysts will get their first shot at predicting what the books will be based upon what the cost of the upcoming plans are for next year and that’s why the Obama Administration is scrambling to subsidize the plans this year – which will mean cheaper plans which will mean the books keep looking good.

The Republicans are stuck here because if they do the right thing and pull the plug (like they should’ve done with the FHA) then the insurance market will crash, the economy will tank and it’ll be the Republicans fault. Or they can let the game keep playing and Obama dances around like he’s an economic super genius.

Meanwhile, in the real world, we get screwed but our chocolate rations are up. Welcome to your socialist utopia, comrade.

Skywise on June 12, 2014 at 8:49 PM

Bmore on June 12, 2014 at 8:48 PM

I like him quite a bit..and I don’t care for many.

bazil9 on June 12, 2014 at 8:50 PM

Sessions and Upton ask Burwell to kindly provide them

…the HOUSE holds the purse strings to FUND the EPA…the IRS…the VA…ICE…HHS…ETC…ENOUGH of the BULLSHIT…!!!

KOOLAID2 on June 12, 2014 at 8:51 PM

Aw, what the heck. Think I’ll post this on two threads.

PETE Sessions is no JEFF Sessions on Amnesty.

TheRightMan on June 12, 2014 at 8:09 PM

Jeff Sessions is no Jeff Sessions, either. Never forget his vote to confirm lawless, retarded, affirmative action nitwit Eric Holder.

This feels like a great time to review the list of RINOs who joined him:

Alexander (R-TN)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Chambliss (R-Ga)
Collins (R-ME)
Corker (R-TN)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hatch (R-UT)
Isakson (R-GA)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lugar (R-IN)
McCain (R-AZ)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Sessions (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (R-PA)
Voinovich (R-OH)

Jaibones on June 12, 2014 at 8:51 PM

Bmore on June 12, 2014 at 8:48 PM

I like him quite a bit..and I don’t care for many.

bazil9 on June 12, 2014 at 8:50 PM

Ditto

31giddyup on June 12, 2014 at 8:55 PM

Jeff Sessions is no Jeff Sessions, either. Never forget his vote to confirm lawless, retarded, affirmative action nitwit Eric Holder.

This feels like a great time to review the list of RINOs who joined him:

Alexander (R-TN)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Chambliss (R-Ga)
Collins (R-ME)
Corker (R-TN)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hatch (R-UT)
Isakson (R-GA)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lugar (R-IN)
McCain (R-AZ)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Sessions (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (R-PA)
Voinovich (R-OH)

Nevermind

31giddyup on June 12, 2014 at 8:57 PM

Where, pray tell, might these appropriations come from, if not with the approval of Congress? And, if it comes to that, does the administration really have the authority to carry out this risk-corridor program at its own discretion, at all? This is pretty much the same question Sen. Marco Rubio asked of the administration last fall, and evidently, the White House has yet to deign to provide answers.

Impeach the Faker-in-Chief and the whole ball of wax will go into a natural meltdown. Put another way, if zero is impeached AND removed, Biden wouldn’t have the cajones to follow zero’s same trajectory.

Newtie and the Beauty on June 12, 2014 at 8:58 PM

Laws schmlaws

cmsinaz on June 12, 2014 at 8:59 PM

Jaibones on June 12, 2014 at 8:51 PM


Scores 100%

Bmore on June 12, 2014 at 9:07 PM

Voting record.

Bmore on June 12, 2014 at 9:08 PM

McCain 100% would seem an odd man out.

Bmore on June 12, 2014 at 9:10 PM

They sure send a lot of letters on the hill

gophergirl on June 12, 2014 at 9:12 PM

Baracky says it OK.

JimK on June 12, 2014 at 9:25 PM

Nevermind

31giddyup on June 12, 2014 at 8:57 PM

Sorry. If I have a single fetish-grudge against anyone in congress, it’s Jeff Sessions’ vote to confirm Holder. Without that vote he’s one of our genuine heroes…with it, just look at the company he’s in. The horror…

Jaibones on June 12, 2014 at 9:38 PM

Scores 100%

Bmore on June 12, 2014 at 9:07 PM

I don’t get it, B. I also didn’t know his middle name is Beauregard, which is totally awesome.

Jaibones on June 12, 2014 at 9:41 PM

Sorry. If I have a single fetish-grudge against anyone in congress, it’s Jeff Sessions’ vote to confirm Holder. Without that vote he’s one of our genuine heroes…with it, just look at the company he’s in. The horror…

Jaibones on June 12, 2014 at 9:38 PM

Please don’t be sorry. I’d rather be informed/reminded. ; )
I forgot about the Holder vote.
Thank you!

31giddyup on June 12, 2014 at 9:46 PM

giddyup, just look at the company he placed himself in. Ugh.

Specter, the nitwit sisters, whinyb1tch, Mrozinski, Hatch, Corker, Bond, Bennett, Alexander, oh the humanity!

Jaibones on June 12, 2014 at 9:52 PM

Legal justification? Since when the hell has this corrupt administration been concerned about legalities?

GarandFan on June 12, 2014 at 9:58 PM

His voting record is good, with the exception of the Holder vote. We won’t find perfect candidate, but with everything Holder isn’t doing to uphold our laws (ex. voter intimidation, etc.), I don’t want someone who voted for him.

31giddyup on June 12, 2014 at 10:00 PM

I think the “justification” is, “I won.”

Angineer on June 12, 2014 at 10:21 PM

His voting record is good, with the exception of the Holder vote. We won’t find perfect candidate, but with everything Holder isn’t doing to uphold our laws (ex. voter intimidation, etc.), I don’t want someone who voted for him.

31giddyup on June 12, 2014 at 10:00 PM

His voting record is spectacular. One bad vote.

Jaibones on June 12, 2014 at 11:19 PM

HHS will pay the funds in violation of the Antideficiency Act.

The White House answer to Congress will be, “So what are you going to do about it? Impeach me?” just as it has been on other things.

This administration is convinced that it can do whatever it wants even if it is contrary to law.

Impeaching Obama is possible. But there is no chance of conviction in the Senate while the Democrats and Reid are in control.

Even if Obama were impeached and removed Biden would then move into the Presidency and he is known to support and practice the same type of politics.

While I am sure that President Biden would give us enough verbal gaffes to fill out 5 years of Biden’s Home Videos, I’m not sure the country could last.

schmuck281 on June 13, 2014 at 12:25 AM

This is interesting because this is one of the only laws in which federal officials can be held criminally libel if found to be in breach.

No one has ever gone to jail under this statute… but it does actually make that a possible outcome. Its doubtless wishful thinking on my part, but the idea of many of his administration getting carted off in handcuffs would be pretty hilarious.

They’ve certainly earned that fate… though I doubt indifferent to the law that we could survive the political blow back. And again, it would be unprecedented.

Karmashock on June 13, 2014 at 6:37 AM

jittery insurance industry that’s rather concerned about its long-term profitability should the ObamaCare insurance marketplaces not turn out according to plan.

I think the insurance industry should be more jittery if the ObamaCare DOES turn out according to plan.

Grammar Nazi on June 13, 2014 at 7:43 AM

Payments will be made in BitCoin, which is all these greasy insurance company execs deserve for not fighting this when they had the chance.

Please! Don’t bore the administration with legal technicalities! Do you really expect the shameless to suddenly realize their sin and repent?

Good job investigating! Now what are you going to do about it?

virgo on June 13, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Taxpayers have “coughed” up enough hard earned money already for the failed Obamacare mess that we did not need or want. Will be strong pushback on any bailout schemes from the Democrats. Enough, already.

Amazingoly on June 13, 2014 at 8:32 AM