December 2015: Porker of the Month - Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
|Porker of the Month:|
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
The Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) created a temporary “risk corridor” program with the intent of limiting financial losses and gains for insurance companies. The program was designed to collect payments from insurers who made profits deemed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as too large, and use them to compensate the losses of other insurers. If this redistributive scheme did not cover the shortfall, the law did not specify how CMS could fill the gap.
In a November 18, 2013 Wall Street Journal op-ed, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) warned that “Obamacare's risk corridors are designed in such an open-ended manner that [it] now exposes taxpayers to a bailout of the health-insurance industry if and when the law fails.” At Rubio’s urging, a provision was attached to the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (CRomnibus) at end of 2014, which mandated that the risk corridors must be budget neutral, and that CMS could not tap into outside taxpayer-funded accounts to cover a shortfall.
With a bailout prevented, CMS was forced to announce on October 1, 2015 that the risk corridor shortfall was greater than anticipated, and that only $362 million out of the $2.87 billion requested by insurers could be provided.
On December 3, 2015, during the Senate debate on the partial repeal of Obamacare, Sen. Patty Murray raised a point-of-order to the provision in the bill eliminating the risk corridors, stating that the program does “not have a sufficient budget impact.” Only in Washington, D.C., would preventing a $2.5 billion bailout be considered small potatoes.
CAGW President Tom Schatz said, “The fact that Obamacare continues to require taxpayer money to prop it up is evidence of its unsustainability. If a bailout had been allowed at the end of 2014, taxpayers would have been exposed to a $2.5 billion transfer of money to insurance companies. Sen. Murray’s efforts to defend pouring more taxpayer dollars into this money pit is shameful, particularly after she and her fellow Democrats created Obamacare in part to protect Americans from ‘ruthless’ insurance companies, but now they are rushing to protect the very same ‘evil’ industry. Congress should be commended for defeating Sen. Murray’s efforts and explicitly restricting CMS from bailing out insurance companies using Obamacare’s risk corridors.”
For her justification of a $2.5 billion bailout to Obamacare’s partners in the insurance industry, CAGW names Sen. Patty Murray its December Porker of the Month.
Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government. Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.
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