Gus Bilirakis Grills Kathleen Sebelius on Obamacare Costs
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At a meeting of the U.S. Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., turned up the heat on U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius over President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law.
Bilirakis grilled Sebelius on the law and the risk corridors program to support carriers after the Obama administration allowed individuals and small businesses to continue health coverage not in line with the new law through the next year. Asking Sebelius how much taxpayers would have to pay for the risk corridors, Bilirakis could not get her to provide an answer. Sebelius insisted the costs would only be known once there were more Americans enrolled in the law.
“The risk corridor has always been a part of the Affordable Care Act,” Sebelius replied, insisting it would be used for reinsurance. “We did put out a proposed rule. We talked about the fact that we would look carefully at what the enrollment is at the end of 2014 in order to determine going forward.”
Bilirakis jumped in with a question, demanding to know if Sebelius had an estimate of how much it would cost.
“We won’t know anything about what that risk corridor looks like until we get more enrollments,” Sebelius said.
Bilirakis then followed up with more questions. “Do you think it is responsible to put taxpayers on the hook for insurance companies’ losses in the exchange?” he demanded. “Do you think it is responsible to make these payments without even estimating the costs?”
“Again, sir, it will be based on what the risk pool looks like," Sebelius answered. “We always knew that in the first couple of years the market would be attracting some customers and not attracting others and that there would be some risk in what we are hopeful for as the Affordable Care Act continues into maturity that we would have mature pools.”
Bilirakis clearly wasn’t satisfied with Sebelius’ answers to his question based on his comments after the hearing.
“The tab for Obamacare’s risk corridors will ultimately be passed down to U.S. taxpayers,” Bilirakis said. “It is unacceptable for the administration to promulgate a rule without knowing the cost that will result. Furthermore, it’s irresponsible to put taxpayers on the hook for insurance company losses in the exchange.”
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.