The House will not include an Obamacare bailout package in their must-pass omnibus spending bill.
Multiple lawmakers left a meeting with House Republican leadership on Monday night, confirming that the House version of the omnibus spending bill will not include an Obamacare bailout package proposed by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Susan Collins (R-ME).
Congress must pass the omnibus spending bill before midnight Friday or the government will shut down.
The proposed bailout package would include Obamacare’s cost-sharing reduction subsidies for three years and funding 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.
The removal of the Obamacare bailout proposal deals a blow to Sen. Collins, who secured support from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to support the bailout measure in exchange for her vote for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), a supporter of the proposed bailout measure, said on Monday night, “They’re not in there at this point, and that’s unfortunate. We’re going to see what we can do moving forward, perhaps in the Senate.”
Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), as well House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) wrote an op-ed last week urging fellow lawmakers to end any potential Obamacare bailout.
The conservative lawmakers wrote in their op-ed why they oppose funding the CSR program, 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.
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.