(Bloomberg) — Conservative groups are pressing Republican leaders in Congress to renew a restriction on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) risk corridors program.
Organizations including Heritage Action for America, the Club for Growth and Americans for Tax Reform want new limits on the risk corridors program added to a broad spending bill that Congress must pass by Dec. 11 to avoid a government shutdown. They made their appeal Tuesday in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The risk corridors program is supposed to use cash from thriving PPACA exchange plan issuers to help struggling issuers, but it’s on track to collect far less cash from thriving issuers than it needs to meet its obligations, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the parent of CMS, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The conservative groups’ letter comes a week after CMS said it would ask Congress to cover shortfalls in the program.
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“Taxpayers should not be on the hook for any more of Obamacare’s failures, and so we urge you to ensure that their voices prevail by continuing to include language preventing risk corridors from becoming a taxpayer bailout in any future appropriations bill,” the groups wrote.
A spokesman for McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A Ryan spokeswoman, AshLee Strong, declined to comment and referred questions to the House Appropriations Committee.
Spokespeople for Democrats and Republicans on the committee both declined to comment.
Insurers asked for $2.87 billion from the risk corridors program for losses in 2014, the first year the PPACA exchanges started to sell coverage. On Oct. 1, HHS said it could pay struggling exchange plan issuers only $362 million, less than 13 cents on the dollar, because of restrictions already imposed by Congress.