Surprise! President Obama is trying to use your tax dollars to keep his corporate welfare queens in the insurance industry selling unprofitable ♡bamaCare!!! plans.
Desperate to keep insurers on board, the administration scrambled to find another pot of money. Unfortunately, once again, a big part of that money pot belongs to the public.
President Obama doesn’t seem to care. On Feb. 12, the administration announced that the money will be handed out to insurers — a whopping $7.7 billion this year alone.
But it’s not just expensive: That huge handout to the insurance industry is also illegal.
This is money you and everyone else who already has insurance are forced to pay, called a reinsurance fee. You pay the fee whether you buy your own plan or get covered at work, even if your employer self-insures. You may be clueless about it, but the fee is buried in your premium or taken out of your compensation.
The text of the Affordable Care Act is clear as a bell on what this money can be used for.
Some of these annual fees — adding up to billions a year — belong to the public, not the insurance companies. The law states a fixed share “shall be deposited into the general fund of the Treasury of the United States and may not be used” to offset insurance companies’ losses.
But the administration gave all of it to the insurance companies last year, and got away with that heist. So now they’re trying it again.
And failing that — or even if that succeeds, I suppose — there’s always backdoor rationing:
Highmark plans to reduce payments to the physicians by 4.5 percent starting April 1 as part of a broad effort to stem losses related to the federal marketplace, said Alexis Miller, Highmark’s special vice president of individual and small group markets.
Miller estimated the insurer paid about $500 million more for patients’ care in 2015 than it collected in premiums for the plans sold on the federal marketplace, resulting in the loss. Highmark officials have said the people who signed up through the health law’s marketplace were sicker than the insurer expected.
John Krah, executive director of the Allegheny County Medical Society, said doctors should not be held responsible for Highmark setting plan costs too low to cover patients’ care.
“It’s inappropriate for Highmark to seek to compensate for their failure to price these products appropriately by paying physicians less,” Krah said.
Faced with lower reimbursement rates for ACA patients, doctors could end up setting quotas for how many of the patients they would accept at their practices, the way they do for Medicare and Medicaid patients, he said.
Highmark is raising premiums an average of 20% this year and expects to see half of its losses recouped by the taxpayers.
That Means It’s Working™