“Our members campaigned on this bill. Heck, about a dozen Freedom Caucus members co-sponsored the Price bill, which is what this is.” — Speaker Paul D. Ryan, March 10, 2017
Better Way Promise: “Patients with pre-existing conditions, loved ones struggling with complex medical needs, and other vulnerable Americans should have access to high-quality and affordable coverage options. …[W]e believe states and individuals should have better tools, resources, and flexibility to find solutions that fit their unique needs.” (A Better Way to Fix Health Care, Page 5)
Over the past several days, some have suggested the Better Way proposal never intended to repeal Obamacare’s community rating provision. They argue that many Republicans have promised to ensure that Obamacare is replaced with conservative solutions to protect the most vulnerable while preserving a functional insurance market. But their conflation of this general promise with a pledge not to repeal Obamacare rules like community rating is disingenuous.
Example: The Speaker routinely cites a bill introduced by now-Secretary Tom Price as an example of the type of bill conservative lawmakers have previously supported. He construes their support for this bill as implicit support for community rating. But the Price bill could not have been clearer:
From Empowering Patients First Act: SEC. 3. NO MANDATE OF GUARANTEED ISSUE OR COMMUNITY RATING. Nothing in this Act shall be construed to provide a mandate for guaranteed issue or community rating in the private insurance market. (H.R. 2300, Page 5)
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To: Interested Parties
From: Heritage Action for America
Date: December 5, 2016
Subject: How to Repeal All of Obamacare by Inauguration
Republicans have promised voters a full repeal of Obamacare since 2010, when the health care law was first passed. In fact, since Republicans took control of the House in 2011, Congress voted over 60 times to repeal parts or all of the law. Republican congressional leadership and President-elect Donald Trump have all promised to repeal the law.
There are no more excuses to be had. The Republican-controlled Congress has every tool that it needs to overcome any and all obstacles that stand in the way of fully repealing Obamacare. Now that voters have given Republicans control of the House, Senate, and the White House, this campaign promise can and must quickly become reality and the American people should hold them, and President-elect Trump, accountable for delivering on that promise.
In fact, it is entirely possible for the Republican Congress to have a bill fully repealing Obamacare on President-elect Trump’s desk by the time he takes office on January 20. This memo outlines the path that Congress can take over the next two months to ensure a bill repealing Obamacare is the first thing President Trump signs – and that he signs it on Inauguration Day.
To: Interested Parties
From: Heritage Action for America
Date: October 18, 2016
Subject: How Congress Can Stop the Impending Obamacare Bailouts
There is widespread agreement that Obamacare is on the verge of collapse, and while that should prompt calls for full repeal, the reality is that many in Washington are instead contemplating how the law can be propped up. Much of this will play out in 2017 and beyond with a new administration and a new Congress, but some of it will come to a head in the last two months of 2016. In fact, a multi-pronged taxpayer bailout of Obamacare could be in the works. Fortunately, Congress can take three relatively easy steps to stop this from happening. It needs to 1) allow temporary programs to expire as scheduled; 2) reassert current law that has previously been signed by President Obama, and 3) block illegal payments.
When setting up the Obamacare exchanges, three “risk mitigation” (read: bailout) provisions were written into the law to incentivize large health insurance companies to participate in the government takeover of our healthcare industry. The three bailouts are known as the risk corridors, reinsurance, and cost-sharing subsidies. Despite these cronyist “risk mitigations” for big business, Obamacare has been an unmitigated disaster for the average citizen’s health plans and tax dollars. In fact, due to these bailout options, some of the worst fiscal consequences for the taxpayers are potentially yet to come.
As The Heritage Foundation explained last year, the reinsurance program funneled nearly $8 billion to Obamacare insurers in 2014, paid for “by a tax on everyone with non-Obamacare coverage.” Highlighting the problems with the reinsurance bailout provision, Chris Jacobs at National Review writes:
Today, conservative leaders sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging them to continue the policy contained in recent appropriations bills restricting the use of Obamacare’s “Risk Corridor” program:
As you begin negotiations over legislation to continue government funding past December 11, 2015, we the undersigned individuals and organizations urge you to continue the policy contained in recent appropriations bills restricting the use of Obamacare’s “Risk Corridor” program.
Many of us signed on to a letter last year describing the Risk Corridor program (Sec. 1342 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare”) in detail and outlining why we believed it was important to restrict its ability to serve as a “taxpayer bailout” for Obamacare participating insurance companies. Fortunately, Congress was able to insert such language into the last omnibus appropriations act (specifically Division G, Title II, Sec. 227 of P.L. 113-235).
In last year’s letter, we pointed out that the experience of insurers in the new exchanges would likely lead to them demanding much more in returns from the program than they were putting into it. That prediction has turned out to be true. On October 1, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that they would only be able to pay out $362 million of the requested $2.9 billion, or just 12.6%, of funds that Obamacare-participating insurers had requested. Absent the Sec. 227 language mentioned above, HHS may very well have simply filtered the difference of $2.538 billion from hardworking taxpayers to bailout insurers for their poor business decisions.
You can read the full letter here.