It is no secret that ObamaCare – President Barack Obama’s “doomed to fail” government run health care scheme – is an expensive bureaucratic behemoth that spends more on paperwork, top-down control and IRS enforcement than it spends on healthcare itself.
So much so that 87% of Obamacare enrollees need federal aid to pay their premiums according to the Department of Health and Human Services – more than planned for through the annual appropriations of Congress suggests House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, (R- WI).
So how did the lawless Obama Administration make up the shortfall? Rep. Paul suspects the U.S. Treasury Department was ordered – in violation of federal law – to pay out more than $3 billion to health insurers even though Congress did not authorize the spending.
According to a letter Rep. Paul sent to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, Paul explained how the Committee on Ways and Means is responsible, in part, with conducting oversight into the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA” a.k.a. ObamaCare) and the implementation of the PPACA’s cost-sharing (premium subsidy) reduction program.
Paul pointedly states:
“Congress has never appropriated any funds to permit the administration to make any”. . . “payments to insurance companies.” Despite lacking an appropriation, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner informed the (committee) in December 2014 that insurers ”have been paid a cumulative total of $2.7 billion in advance”. . .”payments through the November 2014 payment cycle.”
Taking Treasury Secretary Lew to task, Rep. Paul explained:
“Article I of the U.S. Constitution expressly prohibits the expenditure of public funds without an appropriation made by law. Accordingly, it appears that the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) has directed the Treasury Department to make payments to insurers”…”even though no funds are lawfully available to do so.”
Philip Klein writing for The Washington Examiner writes that the issue is turns on “payments to insurers known as cost-sharing subsidies”…”because President Obama’s healthcare law forces insurers to limit out-of-pocket costs”… and “capping consumer expenses, such as deductibles and co-payments, in insurance policies. In exchange for capping these charges, insurers are supposed to receive compensation.”
House Speaker John Boehner believed that the appropriations issue was of such importance in law and principal that he included unauthorized cost-sharing payments in his lawsuit against the Obama administration’s executive actions and overreach on Obamacare.
In response to Rep. Ryan’s inquiry, the Treasury Department sent a letter describing the program while avoiding a detailed explanation of how and under whose authority Treasury decided to make cost-sharing payments.
The letter was remarkable in this respect.
According to the letter, “$2.997 billion in such payments had been made in 2014” – more than the $2.7 billion originally believed. The letter directed Rep. Ryan to the Department of Justice for further explanation.