I recently testified (here and here and here) and wrote a column on President Obama’s increasing circumvention of Congress in negating or suspending U.S. laws. Obama has repeated suspended provisions of the health care law and made unilateral changes that were previously rejected by Congress. He has also moved hundreds of millions from one part of the Act to other parts without congressional approval. Now, his administration is reportedly changing key provisions of the ACA to potentially make billions of dollars available to the insurance industry in a move that was never debated, let alone approved, by the legislative branch. Ironically, I just ran another column this month listing such incidents of executive over-reach that ideally would have included this potentially huge commitment under Obama’s claimed discretionary authority.
The new regulations have been called a “bailout” of insurance companies providing coverage under the healthcare law. The changes would allow companies to get the money if they control increases in their rates — for a couple of years. That just happens to put increases on the other side of the elections.
The Administration insists that it is hopeful that no bailout is needed but “we want to be clear that in the highly unlikely event of a shortfall, HHS will use appropriations as available to fill it.” That is all fine and good except for the fact that it puts billions to a use not approved by Congress. Even with over 8 million people registered, the ACA is not attracting the younger citizens who are needed to bear the brunt of the new costs by paying in significantly more than they will be taking out of the system. As a result, companies are moving to increase rates even further at a time when roughly half of Americans want the ACA repealed and Democrats are fearing significant losses in the next election. Moreover, as rates increases, more consumers are likely to bolt from the already unpopular program — risking a cascading failure.
The regulation states that “[i]n the unlikely event of a shortfall for the 2015 program year, HHS recognizes that the Affordable Care Act requires the secretary to make full payments to issuers. In that event, HHS will use other sources of funding for the risk corridor payments, subject to the availability of appropriations.” That suggests another shift of hundreds of millions or even billions to the new purpose.
Of course, insurance companies and lobbyists applauded the move but it is not the purpose but the means that remains problematic. I view this as another end-run around Congress in violation of the Separation of Powers. As I said many months ago, we are seeing the emergence of an uber-presidency that is fundamentally changing our system of government. Liberals and Democrats will rue the day that they supported such a destabilizing and dangerous aggregation of power in the Executive Branch. With polls showing Democrats more unpopular than their opponents, we could be looking at a Republican presidency. That individual may use the same unilateral powers to suspend environmental or discrimination laws. The Administration, and its allies, are once again discarding key principles for short-term gains. What is missing is an element of adult supervision to remind everyone that this is not our last president and these powers will remain long after Obama has joined his predecessors on the speaking circuit.
It is not enough to argue that Congress will not act the way you want it to act. We are a divided nation and Congress is divided. That is no license for unilateralism in a tripartite system of government. There is no room for “going it alone” in this system. What President Obama is suggesting is precisely the type of imperial presidency model once advocated by the likes of Richard Nixon. The fact that some may agree with this policy should not blind us to the fact that this type of unilateralism is creating a dominant and destabilizing branch in our system.
Source: LA Times
75 thoughts on “Obama Administration Moves To Unilaterally Make Billions Available To Insurance Companies Under The ACA”
As a Green Keeper on a golf course, and landscaper with experience, I’m asked, continually,
for help with people’s gardens. Anytime you are
considering changing your landscape, you must also thing about
the structures that already stand on your property.
With its thick, glossy needles and dense, upward-reaching
branches, the yew is useful as both a shrub and tree.
I usually do not comment, however I looked at a few of the comments here Obama Administration Moves To Unilaterally Make Billions Available To Insurance
Companies Under The ACA | JONATHAN TURLEY. I do have a few questions for you if you do not mind.
Could it be just me or does it appear like a few of these responses look
like they are coming from brain dead visitors? 😛 And, if
you are writing on additional places, I’d like to keep up with you.
Would you make a list of all of all your public pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?
Isn’t it interesting that when Obama acts unilaterally, it’s not for the benefit of the people, it’s for the benefit of his benefactors. Why not unilaterally institute universal, single payer health care? I mean, he’s such a great guy. He could even include lifetime healthcare for all the people he’s injured with drones! Why not? Really, why not?
If he has this duty to do the right thing in the face of evil Republicans who simply stand in his way at every turn-why do his “right thing” always screw the public and help his donor base?
Reblogged this on SiriusCoffee and commented:
From the article: ” Liberals and Democrats will rue the day that they supported such a destabilizing and dangerous aggregation of power in the Executive Branch. With polls showing Democrats more unpopular than their opponents, we could be looking at a Republican presidency. That individual may use the same unilateral powers to suspend environmental or discrimination laws.”
Indeed, robbing the American people under the guise of helping them is what the State is best known for. The fact that it’s the Democrats caught with their hand in the cookie jar, and might lose power and upset the pet doctrines of the religious left is the real scary thing!
Few doctors? You said ‘no’ doctors. I’m glad that has changed.
Oh, I thank Obama every month when I pay my doubled insurance premiums, have an 1100% increase in deductibles, and few doctors will take my plan because it is the same one sold on the Exchange.
Thank goodness for Democrats. Because of COURSE the middle class can pay premiums on a par with a mortgage and still have to pay out of pocket to see a doctor, which will not count towards max caps.
Yep, Democrats definitely stoop up for the middle class on this one. I don’t know why anyone would question how small business owners and the middle class can survive. I mean, isn’t doubling health insurance premiums while simultaneously restricting drug formularies and doctor networks what everyone wants?
Best of luck when the employer mandate hits.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
IIRC – the Republicans took a similar position with Social Security and then again with Medicare.
Meantime, you folks can just continue to hope and pray that it all blows up.
While the rest of us hope that 8 million people can now access healthcare providers.
Yes, Karen. I haven’t forgotten that that excludes California where doctors and major hospitals will no longer take any ACA exchange patients
Or they blame the Republicans for the massive catastrophe that is Obamacare.
All of this guerilla warfare in the weeds, who benefits, who paid off whom. You’re missing the big picture. Obamacare is the biggest mistake in political history. Obama and the Dems will be blamed. It is theirs, and all theirs, no matter the parsing and gnashing of teeth. And, there will be hell to pay for the Dems in November. They know that VERY well. It looks like some folks here are just in denial.
Sure, Karen. The feds will repay us for the inoperative state websites AND for the unnecessary Iraq War. However, I doubt if they can bring back the dead.
Yes. Both you and bfm have written some interesting stuff. I almost look forward to what they come up with if they take over the Senate. And then we’ll have to hold on to see what November, 2016 brings us.
Oh well. Should make for some great Stewart, Colbert, and Oliver. And I can always chug a little Prestone each night to take away the pain.
Maybe that bill would help fix our broken procurement system. But what about the feds doing the same thing? Can they be forced to repay us?
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