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Conservatives Balk at Potential Omnibus Obamacare Bailout

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AP

Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), as well as House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), wrote on an op-ed urging fellow lawmakers to end any potential Obamacare bailout package.

The coalition of conservative lawmakers wrote an op-ed for Fox News on Wednesday, calling on fellow legislators to end any potential bailout of Obamacare given new reports about Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Susan Collins (R-ME) proposing a new legislative package that would do just that.

In an exclusive Axios report, it was revealed that Sens. Alexander and Collins will propose an Obamacare bailout package that would fund Obamacare’s cost-sharing reduction subsidies for three years, fund a federal reinsurance program for three years, in exchange for increased flexibility for states through federal waivers. The program would also expand eligibility for Obamacare “copper” plans.

Alexander remarked that if Democratic leadership supports the bill, “it’ll be the law of the land by the end of next week.”

The Tennessee senator hopes to include the bill in the omnibus spending bill by the end of March.

The coalition of lawmakers wrote in their op-ed why lawmakers should reject both the CSR payments as well as a federal reinsurance program:

Before now, Republicans correctly saw CSR payments for what they were – flagrant bailouts of favored ObamaCare insurance companies – and refused to be complicit in that bailout.

Republicans also recognized that CSR payments lacked sufficient pro-life protections, allowing taxpayer funding for abortions. These problems with CSR payments still remain – but the attitude among some Republicans has strangely and suddenly changed.

The reinsurance program proposals under consideration today would create a new backdoor bailout similar to one originally found in ObamaCare.

Ranking Republican chairmen from both the House and the Senate called these bailouts “the great Obamacare heist.”

In contrast, Lee, Cruz, Meadows, and Jordan argue that Republican lawmakers should focus on expanding health savings accounts (HSAs), allowing Americans to purchase more affordable health plans, and making health plans portable between jobs.

“These three simple things will go a long way toward promoting market competition that benefits consumers and reduces the cost of health care for everyday Americans,” the conservatives explained.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) introduced a bill last week to codify President Donald Trump’s recent executive order offering Americans more affordable, short-term health plans compared to Obamacare.

President Trump signed an executive order in October that expanded association health plans (AHPs), as well as short-term, limited-duration insurance plans to offer Americans more affordable options compared to Obamacare. Sen. Barrasso’s bill would make the short-term health care expansion permanent.

“By building on the Trump administration action, Congress has an opportunity to truly expand health care choice and affordability,” said Barrasso. “These less expensive health plans are free from Obamacare’s burdensome mandates and are an important option for many Americans priced out of the one-size-fits-all plans offered today. It gives them the freedom to choose the coverage that works best for them.”

The conservative concluded:

Republicans stand at a moment of great opportunity, one we’ve been promising to seize for over eight years. We can listen to the American people – who delivered historic Republican majorities that promised to move our nation past broken government intrusions into the health insurance market – or we can double down on this failed system by bailing out ObamaCare.

“We know which one we choose,” they added.

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