Sessions, Upton: HHS “ignores rule of law” with ObamaCare’s risk corridor program

posted at 7:21 pm on June 19, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

The Obama administration is seriously struggling to come up with legal justifications for the risk-corridor program, even though ObamaCare didn’t include language appropriating any funds for the program? …So, what else is new?

The Department of Health and Human Services this week responded to a recent letter from House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-AL) regarding the department’s legal authority to issue payments under the president’s health care law’s risk corridor program. Now, HHS argues that the risk corridor program would be considered a user fee in order to justify its authority to make payments under the program, but risk corridors were not listed as a user fee in President Obama’s own FY 2015 budget, released just a few months ago.

“Chalk up another executive fiat for this imperial presidency,” commented Upton. “This reversal underscores the administration’s disregard toward the law and Congress, and reveals its ‘whatever it takes’ and ‘whatever it costs’ effort to prop up this broken law.”

Sessions commented, “HHS now says that its entire legal authority to make risk corridor payments is predicated on the funds being treated as ‘user fees.’ But as recently as last year, the president’s budget deposited risk corridor payments into the Treasury general fund—conclusive proof that they are not user fees. HHS’ letter serves to confirm our suspicions.”

The very basic premise of the risk-corridor program is that insurers who ended up with a healthier, more profitable mix of insurees would then siphon some of those profits over to insurers who gleaned too many expensive enrollees to stay in the black, just for the first few years of the law until things stabilize — but if hardly any insurers are turning profits and the market doesn’t stabilize, the source of those breezily promised risk-corridor funds remains a murky legal mystery. Imagine that.

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Why should Dear Liar act any differently here?

rbj on June 19, 2014 at 7:29 PM

If these two clowns are really unhappy about the administration writing its own laws, then let them do something substantive about it. Until then, this is just wind. Really, they might just as well be ranting on HotAir for all the good they’ve done so far stopping this sort of anti-Constitutional behavior by the administration.

MTF on June 19, 2014 at 7:31 PM

but if hardly any insurers are turning profits and the market doesn’t stabilize, the source of those breezily promised risk-corridor funds remains a murky legal mystery.

I don’t see the big deal. The DNC and state Democrat parties should be liable.

malclave on June 19, 2014 at 7:34 PM

Cut them off, shut them down. Power of the purse. And your own leadership has promised Obama never to use it.

de rigueur on June 19, 2014 at 7:36 PM

he exchange between Clinton and Daily Surge Publisher Jason Mattera went like this:

Mattera: “Hi Secretary Clinton. Would you sign this for me?”

Clinton: “Sure, what’s your name?”

Mattera: “If you can make it out to Christopher Stevens. I think you knew him.”

Clinton: “Yeah, I’m not going to make it out to Chris Stevens.”

Mattera: “What difference does it make?”

davidk on June 19, 2014 at 7:41 PM

The ‘Risk Corridor’ payment scheme was always meant to fail – it just has come to the fore too soon. The One planned for his scheme to be so inculcated into society and popular, that the sheeple would wholeheartedly support anything that would keep it viable, especially if ‘others’ were paying for it.

vnvet on June 19, 2014 at 7:42 PM

OT but has the Gov. Walker BS been posted today?

CW on June 19, 2014 at 7:53 PM

Maybe they should have READ the law BEFORE they passed it!

GarandFan on June 19, 2014 at 7:56 PM

Anyone else having a flashback about now?

Newtie and the Beauty on June 19, 2014 at 7:57 PM

I think Rep. Jeff Sessions is my favorite.

Cindy Munford on June 19, 2014 at 7:57 PM

Laws only matter if they are enforced.

Guess what’s not getting enforced?

p0s3r on June 19, 2014 at 7:58 PM

Palin’s book, which was released the same year President Obama moved into the White House, sold approximately 496,000 copies in its first week of release, according to figures cited by the New York Times.

That’s almost half a million copies in one week.

In contrast, Clinton, with all her softball interviews and a massive amount of free publicity from an excited press, sold only 100,000 copies from its Tuesday release through Saturday, Politico reported.

And because “explanatory journalism” is all the rage these days, here’s a chart to help you visualize Palin’s first week of book sales versus Clinton’s:

davidk on June 19, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Congress…….why do we eve have one?

Clearly the self government idea has failed.

Sorry founders, you were wrong.

PappyD61 on June 19, 2014 at 8:33 PM

Democrat persecutors are working overtime today. Esquire breathlessly claims they are after Christie and are threatening and old man with Parkinson’s, hoping he will testify that Christie told him to hold Sandy money back from Hoboken. The worm will turn, Democrats, with a vengeance.

MTF on June 19, 2014 at 8:50 PM

We keep feigning surprise as Obama destroys any constitutional checks and balances that the American system was thought to have, and yet we do nothing. Any idiot knows that if you just talk about the problem and do nothing then why should the tyranny of those destroying the system change. They are literally getting away with murder (our Border services, our Ambassadors, and our soldiers). When will the Congress act?

leader4hru on June 19, 2014 at 9:45 PM

The GOP cannot sunset risk corridor funding without winning the senate. With no future risk corridor slush fund, insurers will flee the exchanges.

Sun setting the risk corridor funding and attaching it to a debt ceiling increase is the simplest way to dismantle obamacare. The public is with the GOP at about 80 percent on both issues – debt increase and ins company bailout.

But we MUST have the senate first. This is why Reid and Obama are terrified of a GOP senate next year.

Don’t give me any BS that the senate doesn’t matter. Obama cannot veto a debt ceiling increase.

matthew8787 on June 19, 2014 at 9:50 PM

Full repeal is coming for Obamacare soon. It is a failed law that we did not need or want. No bailout funds for the insurance companies.

Amazingoly on June 20, 2014 at 8:33 AM