With Legislation Pending, Congress Must Not Authorize Appropriations for CSR Payments

Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom: With Legislation Pending, Congress Must Not Authorize Appropriations for CSR Payments

Congress Should Not Enable Health Plans to ‘Double Collect’

ST. PAUL, Minn.—The U.S. Senate has written a repeal of the Affordable Care Act individual mandate into its version of the impending tax bill, which is good news for many Obamacare opponents. But at the same time, the Senate announced it will bring the Obamacare “stability” legislation written by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to the floor for a vote.

Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom (CCHF, www.cchfreedom.org) says the stability legislation will not restore health freedom to Americans and will allow health plans to pocket even more money.

Under the Alexander-Murray legislation, health insurers will retain some cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, which will be more expensive for American taxpayers. According to the Congressional Budget Office, “premiums for 2018 have already been finalized and rebates [to individuals and the government] related to CSRs would be less than the CSR payments themselves.” In other words, reports Christopher Jacobs in the Federalist, the CBO “believes insurers—having increased their rates for 2018 after the Trump administration withdrew the CSR payments—will, if given ‘extra’ CSR money after finalizing those higher rates, pocket some of that cash.” The higher premium subsidies alone are estimated by the CBO to be $194 billion from 2017 through 2026.

CCHF president and co-founder Twila Brase, who had encouraged President Trump to end the administration’s unconstitutional CSR subsidies, said, “The expected double-dipping of taxpayer dollars under a Congressional bailout must not be authorized. The taxpayer already hit with high premiums is facing higher taxes as a result of the billions in CSR subsidies that should never have been paid by the administration. Congress should not give health plans a second stream of annual access to taxpayer dollars through CSR subsidies.”

In a new CCHF brief titled, “Cost Sharing Reduction Subsidies: A ‘Solution” in Search of a Problem and the Costly Danger of Double-Dipping,” Brase says Congress should not authorize appropriations for CSR payments.

“As Justice Vince Chhabria said in California vs. Trump, restoring the CSR subsidies will allow health plans to ‘double collect,’” Brase added. “That would be bad for taxpayers and the fiscal health of the United States. Now is the time to permanently end CSR payments.”

Several states and the District of Columbia challenged President Trump’s August decision to end CSR subsidies in court (State of California v. Donald J. Trump) and requested an injunction requiring the CSR payments to be made. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California heard oral arguments for and against the injunction request on Oct. 23, 2017. Two days later, Chhabria, an Obama-appointee, refused to require the Trump administration to restore CSR subsidies, reported the Los Angeles Times. He added that the president’s action was likely to be lawful and would cause little immediate harm. In fact, the Times reported, Chhabria appeared to castigate California and 17 other states for seeking to block Trump’s action and even questioned their motives.

The CCHF brief cites several key quotes by Judge Chhabria:

  • “There are a couple states who are plaintiffs in this case—Delaware and Kentucky—who for some reason have not chosen to respond to the termination of the CSR payments in this way. And it seems to me that the states, by choosing to respond in a different way, are the ones who are responsible for depriving their citizens of the opportunity to get higher tax credits to buy insurance on the exchanges.”
     
  • “If I order the Administration to resume these CSR payments, the insurance companies will be able to both collect the higher premiums that were established in anticipation of termination of the CSR payments and collect the CSR payments from the federal government. Is that the result you want?”
     
  • “That’s sort of a complicated way of saying what you want to happen now and for 2018 is for the insurance companies to double collect.”
     
  • “Do you know why the CBO report predicted that a million more people would go without insurance? Do you know what the basis of that prediction was? It was that insurance companies would withdraw from the markets. And that hasn’t happened. And the reason that hasn’t happened is because States like California have found this innovative way to respond to the termination of the payments. And so, the CBO prediction that a million more people would go without insurance is outdated. And it’s based on an assumption that has not come to fruition.”

For more information about CCHF, visit www.cchfreedom.org, its Facebook page or its Twitter feed @CCHFreedom. View the media page for CCHF here. For more on CCHF’s The Wedge of Health Freedom, visit www.JointheWedge.comThe Wedge Facebook page or The Wedge on Twitter @wedgeoffreedom.

view pdf