- - Sunday, August 13, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The danger of a Republican bailout of Obamacare is mounting with every passing day. A group of “moderate” Republicans calling themselves the Problem Solvers Caucus is quietly negotiating with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to throw a multi-billion dollar life line to the Obamacare insurance exchanges.

This bailout, of course, would be an epic betrayal by a Republican Party which has promised to repeal and replace the financially crumbling Obama health law.

Republicans who are “negotiating” this bipartisan deal, such as Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, object to the term “bailout” for this rescue package. The left prefers the euphemism “stabilizing the insurance market.” The Washington Post’s left-wing fact checker, who just can’t seem to get his facts straight, says “bailout” is misleading pejorative language. The Post claims this is merely a payment to low income families to help pay for the escalating premiums under Obamacare. These payments were allegedly always part of the law as passed.

The hypocrisy here is towering. These are the same people who told us over and over again that Obamacare was going to “bend the cost curve of health care down.” These are the same people who promised that Obamacare was going to “save” the average family $2,500 a year in lower insurance premiums. (If Obamacare were lowering insurance costs not raising them, there would be no need for these bailout funds in the first place.)

These were also the same people who swore to us that Obamacare wasn’t going to raise the federal deficit by a dime. Oh really. Where is the $10 to $20 billion to pay for this new federal subsidy going to come from? Pixie dust?

Incidentally, is there even one single promise of Obamacare that has been kept after seven years?

So why is everyone suddenly rallying for an Obamacare bailout? Why aren’t they demanding more consumer choice, an end to the odious individual mandate, repeal of the tax increase, and expanded health savings accounts? The answer is simple. The new health law has given rise to an Obamacare industrial complex. The health system is now like a cocaine junkie hooked on federal payments.

This addiction explains why the insurance companies are lobbying furiously for these funds alongside their new found friends at left-wing interest groups like Center for American Progress. The irony of this alliance is that the left-wing allies the insurers have united with hate insurance companies and want to abolish them. The insurance lobby is selling rope to their hangman.

Hospital groups, the American Medical Association, the AARP and groups like them are on board too. They are joined by the Catholic Bishops and groups like the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association. (If you are donating money to any of these groups you might want to think again.) This multi-billion dollar health industrial complex has only one solution to every Obamacare crack-up: more regulation and more tax dollars.

For example, the Obamacare industrial complex argues that there was an innocent mistake in the Obamacare law as written (imagine that, maybe next time they will read the bill before they vote on it) and that these bail-out funds to Obamacare were intended to be automatic entitlement payments that would not have to be appropriated by Congress.

The Obamacare lobby is salivating over that idea. Every year the insurance companies would get fatter and fatter checks from the government no matter how much Obamacare costs escalate. Is this what the “Problem Solvers” in Congress really want? Financial accountability would be thrown out the window and Obamacare would become an appendage of Medicaid with exploding costs and a blank check from taxpayers.

This year the best estimate is that Obamacare will need at least $10 billion more to keep the system solvent. The death spiral in the program is getting more dire with every passing month, so it’s highly predictable these costs will ratchet up to $20 billion next year and more in the years that follow.

You can call this a bailout or just a swindle of taxpayers who were fed a litany of lies about Obamacare’s virtues from the very start. Either way taxpayers get shafted (again) and the Obamacare industrial complex gets fat and happy. If Republicans are partners to this fiscal crime, they are as culpable as the Democrats who passed this turkey in the first place and they certainly don’t deserve to be the governing party.

• Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with Freedom Works.

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