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Democrats defend ACA subsidy program funding

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Democrats on the U.S. House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee today blasted Republican colleagues’ effort to question whether the Obama administration has permission from Congress to operate the Affordable Care Act cost-sharing reduction subsidy program.

Republicans on the committee released a report summarizing their arguments about the constitutionality of program funding and accusing the administration of failing to respond properly to congressional investigations of program funding.

Related: Court ruling threatens $5 billion in PPACA insurer subsidy payments

Mark Mazur, assistant secretary for tax policy at the U.S. Treasury Department, testified at a subcommittee hearing, which was streamed live on the Internet, that the same section in the ACA that provides a permanent appropriation for the ACA exchange plan premium tax credit subsidy program provides a permanent appropriation for the cost-sharing reduction program.

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said critics of cost-sharing reduction program funding should come up with another way to help the people who are getting the subsidy.

“If they don’t have it, they can die,” Rangel said at the hearing, which was streamed live on the Internet. “They can absolutely die if they don’t have the money to pay for care.”

Rangel thanked four Obama administration officials who came to respond to Republican attacks on cost-sharing reduction program funding.

“We write the law,” Rangel told them. “You interpret it, and they take us to court.”

“This hearing is only about attacking the Affordable Care Act, and embarrassing the witnesses and the administration,” said Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y.

The cost-sharing reduction program helps ACA exchange plan users who earn less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level with plan deductible, co-payment and coinsurance costs.

House Republicans have sued the administration in federal court over allegations that the administration is making program payments without a valid congressional appropriation. In May, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of the administration critics, but she stayed the effect of her ruling while it is under appeal.



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View: Obamacare, executive power and the rule of law

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