A proposed government funding bill
reportedly contains a "poison pill" provision that could slowly kill Obamacare by preventing the government from bailing out health insurers in the exchange.
The provision — quietly inserted by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio into last year's funding bill and included in the new bill unveiled Tuesday night, The Hill
reports — restricts Obamacare's "risk corridor" program that helps prop up insurers who lose money in the first three years of the health care law.
"It has proved to be a poison pill that is killing the measure from within," Washington Post
columnist Marc Thiessen writes.
The "risk corridor" was created by the Obama administration to entice reluctant insurance companies to join the exchange, calling for profitable insurers to pay some of those profits into a pool to help money-losing insurers.
But if the amount insurers lost exceeded what the companies paid in, the government would step in and make up the difference.
According to The Hill, the Rubio-touted provision would prevent the administration from shifting other funds into the pool.
"Why should American taxpayers be bailing out insurance companies, many of whom cooperated with, conspired with alongside the Obama administration to get Obamacare passed?" Rubio said in an interview with Breitbart
Democrats' efforts to include help for insurers in the new funding bill were rejected by Republicans, The Hill reports.
"That was part of our conversation," Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, said Tuesday, calling Rubio's provision a "serious problem."
"Sen. Rubio in his effort to derail the Affordable Care Act in any possible way changed that language a year ago and now we're stuck with it," Durbin charged.
The Hill reports the new plan does, however, include other help for insurers: a one-year suspension of Obamacare's tax on insurers in 2017.
The Hill explains the suspension is part of a deal around three Obamacare taxes — including a two-year delay of the "Cadillac Tax" on high-cost health plans and a two-year suspension of the tax on medical devices.
Insurers are critical of the new plans.
"The latest budget proposals do nothing to address the recent funding shortfall with the risk corridors program or make-up for the losses facing health plans in the Exchange," Clare Krusing, spokeswoman for America's Health Insurance Plans, said in a statement Tuesday, The Hill reports.
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