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Billions to Insurance Companies? Without Legal Consent?
Why the U.S. Treasury Department paid nearly $3 billion to our major, health insurance companies? Ways and Means Chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), wants to know. Sadly, our Treasury officials are stonewalling their responses by referring Rep. Ryan to our Department of Justice, which claims our ObamaCare law authorized the payments. In a brief to related to a lawsuit brought by the Speaker of the House, the DOJ wrote:
“The cost sharing reduction payments are being made as part of a mandatory payment program that Congress has fully appropriated.”
Of course, it is easy for government lawyers to claim the ObamaCare law authorized the payments. However, and to the contrary, a year earlier ObamaCare officials didn’t believe they had the authority when they asked Congress for an appropriation. In 2014, ObamaCare officials (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) asked Congress for $4 billion to pay insurance companies and asked for an additional $1.4 billion in advanced appropriations for the first quarter of fiscal year 2015.
Further, in 2013, Congressional Research Service wrote that, “unlike the refundable tax credits, these [cost-sharing] payments to the health plans do not appear to be funded through a permanent appropriation. Instead, it appears from the President’s FY2014 budget that funds these payments are intended to be made available through annual appropriations.”
Health insurance companies and the Obama administration negotiated government subsidies to insurers as part of their ObamaCare deal. The ObamaCare program is to put a cap on insurance premiums paid by low-wage earners, and the billion dollar subsidies is to replace the shortfall to the insurers. Thus, the amount of the subsidy needs to be determined by the yearly losses. Naturally, it would be prudent for Congress to determine the cost annually and make the appropriation on a yearly basis. However, reversing their previous request for annual appropriations, the Treasury reported that ObamaCare authorizes the money in the future, which is estimated to be $150 billion in ten years.
Of course, this is very similar to the ObamaCare case – King v. Burwell – recently heard by the Supreme Court. A government agency interprets a law in accordance to the wishes of special interests, i.e. the Obama administration and our insurance companies. This, too, will be litigated.
Our Constitution vests our law-making authority with Congress. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), a Constitutional scholar, recognizes the mistake of delegating too much power to bureaucrats is repeatedly caused by Congress. Lee, referring to executive orders in general, placed the problem with Congress.
… almost all of it is Congress’s fault. We’re kidding ourselves if we think we can come up with a system of laws that delegates all of this lawmaking power to the executive branch. We’re kidding ourselves if we don’t think presidents, Democrats and Republicans alike, are going to abuse that. We’re kidding ourselves if we don’t think that’s going to result in an erosion of not only our constitutional order, but also liberty itself. So, yeah, this is Congress’s fault, it is overwhelmingly Congress’s fault and we’ve got to turn it back.
Senator Lee recognizes Congress must be more precise and clear in delegating authority, otherwise executive and bureaucratic abuse will continue. Lee’s knowledge and reverence for the Constitution is rare in government, and he is extremely important in restoring the American Republic and the Rule of Law.