Coburn: Shutdown won't stop ObamaCare

Shutting down the federal government would not stop the Obama administration from implementing its signature healthcare law, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said Tuesday. 

Coburn has been sharply critical of the effort to force a government shutdown over ObamaCare funding. He released a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report Tuesday that said such a move would not actually stop the administration from implementing the healthcare law.

"The memo reveals that if government were shut down, funding for Obamacare would still continue," Coburn's office said in a summary. "In other words, shutting down the federal government does not shut down Obamacare."  

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The CRS report notes that much of the administration's implementation funding comes from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) itself — not from the spending bills some conservatives are threatening to defeat.

"It appears that substantial ACA implementation might continue during a lapse in annual appropriations that resulted in a temporary government shutdown," the CRS said.

Congress has already denied the administration's requests for more money to help implement the healthcare law, forcing the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) to scrape together funding from other accounts. HHS could keep piecing together funding during a shutdown, according to the CRS.

"It seems likely that the Administration will continue to rely on alternative sources of funding to support ACA implementation activities," the report states.

Shutting down the federal government would stop the IRS from collecting the law's taxes and penalties, and people subject to the individual mandate would still accrue fines for the time they spent uninsured during a shutdown, the report said.

Coburn is among the Senate Republicans who have pushed back strongly against efforts to shut down the government unless a bill to keep it open defunds ObamaCare.

"I’ve been here when we’ve done that, and it’s not a strategy that works," Coburn told The Washington Post. "This is misleading the conservative base because it’s not achievable, and all it will do in the long run is dispirit the base. This is a failed strategy for conservatives."

Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)  have spearheaded a push to possibly shut down the government. They say conservatives should refuse to support a bill to keep the government open unless it also defunds ObamaCare.


— This post was updated at 3:41 p.m.