Conservative Groups Ask Congress to Prevent Obamacare 'Bailouts' • Washington Examiner

More than 50 fiscally conservative groups are asking Congress to prevent the Obama administration from giving insurers "bailouts" for their Obamacare losses.

Congress should take two steps toward that end, according to a lettersent Wednesday by Freedom Partners and dozens of other groups.

They want members to pass a bill requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to recover the $5 billion it has sent to insurance companies through the healthcare law's reinsurance program. The legislation, from Sen. Ben Sasse and Rep. Mark Walker, would slash HHS' general departmental management fund if it didn't recoup the money from insurers.

The groups also want Congress to continue requiring that that the healthcare law's risk corridor program remain budget neutral, so the administration can't pay out additional dollars on top of what insurers pay in, and pass a bill blocking the administration from using the Judgment Fund or other taxpayer dollars from making payments.

"American households deserve better than to have their tax dollars go toward bailouts for insurance companies," the letter says.

The reinsurance and risk corridor programs were provided in the Affordable Care Act as a way of shielding insurers from major losses should sicker customers enroll in their plans. Insurers with profits are supposed to make payments into the programs, which are then distributed to insurers with losses.

In reality, however, insurers haven't made enough payments to cover the claims, so the Obama administration has tried to shift around money to make up the shortfall. Congress has blocked HHS from dipping into its own funds for the risk corridor program.

Republicans have labeled the programs "bailouts" for insurers, as part of their ongoing criticisms of President Obama's healthcare law.

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