An Obamacare "bailout" for insurers is in the GOP's crosshairs as Republicans in Congress look for ways to prevent the administration from paying out millions of dollars to settle a lawsuit brought by some Affordable Care Act insurers.
Some insurance companies are suing over a shortfall in the Obamacare program that left them in the red, and now Republicans are reportedly brainstorming ways to prevent a settlement, which would likely come from an "obscure fund within the Treasury Department to pay out massive settlements to insurers," according to The Hill.
Republicans believe a settlement would amount to a "bailout" that would go against the will of Congress, the newspaper noted.
The Washington Post reported last month that some Justice Department officials had been quietly telling several health plans suing over the unpaid money that they want to settle. That settlement could lead to the government paying off about 175 health plans selling Obamacare coverage on Affordable Care Act marketplaces.
The payments could possibly come from a fund originally intended to cover federal legal claims, allowing the Obama administration to skirt a congressional ban on using money from Health and Human Services to pay insurers, according to The Post.
While more than 10 million Americans have purchased policies through the ACA marketplace since 2014, many insurers claim to be losing money on customers who are relatively more expensive to cover.
"Basically, the failures of Obama's signature healthcare law [are] going to be paid for by you, the U.S. taxpayer," writes Forbes contributing writer Simon Constable, a visiting fellow at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise.
"It gets worse. This move is yet another bailout for big business, just like the banking bailout of 2009," Constable continued. "The cash will go to health insurance companies. That's something that won't sit well with many Democrats or Republicans. After all, why should the citizenry pay for the mistakes of businesses?"
U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith told The Hill that lawmakers are looking at different ways to pass legislation that would block the use of that specific treasury fund.
"We're looking at ways to deal with that issue — mechanisms, either legislatively or judicially," Griffith told The Hill. "Eventually I think there's going to be a piece of legislation, but we want to get it right."
U.S. Sen. John Barrasso said that Republicans could insert language into the year-end funding bill that could block its use.
"There is a role for Congress to play," Barrasso told The Hill. "You can't imagine that President Obama would sign such a law, so you're now talking about, do you try to include it in one of the end-of-the-year funding packages like we've done in the past."
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