Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl), is responsible for many of the loses insurers have suffered under the Affordable Care Act, yet he, and other members of his party, still point their fingers at Obamacare and call it a losing proposition.
At least half the insurers involved in Obamacare lost money in 2016, but it wasn’t due to a fault in the healthcare law itself, but because Congressman like Rubio, undermined a provision in the law that would have kept insurers going. That provision is known as the “risk corridor.”
Under the Affordable Care Act the federal government shares the risks by limiting the gains and losses of insurers. If consumer payments to the insurer exceeded a certain amount, then the insurer would give some of their profit to the government. When the insurer lost money because premiums fell short of medical expenditures were too high, the government would make a payment to the insurer.
The risk corridor idea is one of give and take, but the Republicans managed to sell it as a bailout.
As a presidential candidate Rubio called the risk corridor a bailout fund, but he failed to mention that profitable insurers pay into the fund to help those with loses, and that cutting those funds made it impossible for some insurers to remain in that healthcare market. Rubio, is perhaps, the main culprit in cutting funds to the risk corridor.
In 2014 Rubio urged the former Speaker of the House John Boehner to block potential tax money appropriations for risk corridor payments. In December of that year lawmakers passed a spending bill that included specific language, or a rider, which stated the Department of Health and Human Services could not use any extra money in its budget to pay risk corridor expenses. Therefore, the money paid into the system by insurers, also called user fees, could not go back into the system as intended by the Affordable Care Act.
Rubio’s actions led many insurers to leave the marketplace, and some collapsed completely. Nevertheless, two years after Rubio urged Boehner to introduce the block on the risk corridor funds the Congressional Budget Office announced that risk corridors “will likely eventually break even” by 2016.
The numbers for 2016 are not available at this time, but the government did not pay the amount owed to insurers. An Oregon-based insurance company has sued the government for $5 billion over missed risk corridor payments, and they are no longer offering marketplace plans. Many were not paid, or paid far less than they were owed.
As Rubio himself said, “When they passed Obamacare, they put a bailout fund in Obamacare…We led the effort and wiped out that bailout fund.” But, as I mentioned before, the fund is not about bailouts, and would have potentially allowed the program to pay for itself over time if left alone.
The program, set to expire this year, could have left the health marketplace in much better shape, but as House Speaker Paul Ryan said Friday, “Obamacare is the law of the land.” For now, they are stuck with trying to fix something they helped to break.
Little did the Republicans know, or understand, that one day they would have face the idea of living with Obamacare, a program they sought to destroy from the very beginning. The replacement they sought for Obamacare – put together hastily with radical repercussions – was found lifeless Friday, so much so, the Republicans wouldn’t even bring it to the floor for a vote.
The White House boasted that Obamacare would implode from within, a statement with more bull than a Chicago stockyard. If the program fails, it will do so because of outside interference.