Thursday, January 14, 2016

Marco Rubio Was Not the Main Guy Behind Defunding Obamacare or Even an Important Player

In a post last month I passed on the word that Senator Marco Rubio was the key figure behind defunding Obamacare. Quoting the New York Times:
A little-noticed health care provision that Senator Marco Rubio of Florida slipped into a giant spending law last year has tangled up the Obama administration, sent tremors through health insurance markets and rattled confidence in the durability of President Obama’s signature health law.
Well, apparently they got it wrong. There's now a correction on the story:
Correction: January 15, 2016 An article on Dec. 10 about Marco Rubio’s efforts to undermine an element of the Affordable Care Act referred incorrectly to one element of the legislative history. While Mr. Rubio was the most prominent congressional opponent of the so-called risk corridor payments in the health law, and introduced measures to undermine them, other Republicans were ultimately responsible for inserting a provision into a 2014 spending bill that limited the payments. The error was repeated in a picture caption with the continuation of the article. [emphasis added]
Oops! The "other Republicans", unnamed by the Times, were "Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and then-Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.).  The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler:
But a House probe that year actually suggested claims would exceed payments. Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), then ranking member of the Budget Committee, and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, came up with a new strategy of attacking the legality of the payments. They also enlisted the help of then-Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who chaired the appropriations panel that funds the Department of Health and Human Services and the Labor Department.
The lawmakers questioned whether the payments were actually appropriated correctly — forcing the administration to make changes that ultimately allowed the lawmakers to checkmate the administration. In effect, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) was forced to admit that the ACA did not automatically appropriate the funds, but it was subject to discretion of Congress. (A Government Accountability Office opinion requested by Sessions and Upton backed up much of the GOP contention.)
So, these guys are the real heroes. And the New York Times again has egg on its face for poor reporting and not making corrections until almost four weeks after the story had been corrected by good reporting.
A Sept. 30, 2014, legal opinion from the congressional Government Accountability Office validated part of the Sessions-Upton strategy. The analysis confirmed that the president's health law failed to provide specific authority for the risk corridor payments.
But there was a nuance. Under risk corridors, insurers whose medical claims costs are lower than expected in a given year pay in money to help insurers whose costs are high. GAO said those were "user fees" and the administration could still pay insurers through other health care accounts endowed with broad spending authority.
Those accounts could also be used to shift additional funding in case insurer payments into the program were insufficient.
Along with Kingston, Sessions and Upton sprang the trap, crafting a one-sentence budget provision that blocked the administration from covering any shortfalls.
No comment on what this says about Senator Rubio's credibility.

H/T Byron York


MAX Redline said...

Marco's not much different from Jeb! in my view. Both are GOPe; neither would get my vote.

T. D. said...

I'm of the Mark Levin school of presidential voting. I would vote for a can of orange juice over Hillary or Bernie. So, the bar is pretty low to get my vote. Heh.