Heritage Action to urge Congress not to fund ObamaCare 'bailout'

A leading conservative group is asking the GOP-led Congress to resist lobbying efforts for a “taxpayer bailout” of the struggling ObamaCare health-insurance law.

“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,” Heritage Action for America writes in a letter to be delivered to Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

“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,” the letter adds.

ObamaCare, more formally known as the Affordable Care Act, was signed into law by President Obama in 2010 in an effort to provide low-cost medical care to an estimated tens of millions of uninsured Americans.

However, such factors as lower-than-projected enrollment and more high-risk patients than expected has resulted in sharp increases in some premium costs, which insurers have passed on to customers.

The six-page letter from Heritage Action, the Heritage Foundation’s policy advocacy arm, also includes guidelines for the House and Senate on how to resist lobbying efforts in the lame duck session.

“If fact, a multi-pronged taxpayer bailout of ObamaCare could (already) be in the works,” the letter states.

Blue Cross Blue Shield, which insures an estimated 100 million Americans, sent a letter to lawmakers in September that warned them that stopping scheduled 2016 reinsurance payments to the mandated health plans would result in increased costs and few choices for consumers and dismissed conservatives’ arguments that the money is indeed a “bailout.”

A copy of the letter was obtained by The Hill newspaper, which first reported the issue.

"The reinsurance program was created under ObamaCare as a form of life support for insurers," the letter states.

Heritage Action is suggesting Congress take three steps to stop such a bailout, which includes blocking “illegal payments” and allowing temporary programs -- including so-called “risk corridors” -- to simply expire.

The third step is to require the Department of Health and Human Services, a part of the 2010 law, to repay $5 billion owed to taxpayers that has instead been given to insurers, according to Heritage Action.

“To date, they haven’t paid the taxpayers back a single penny,” the letter states.