Rubio blasts Trump budget for ObamaCare 'bailout' provision

Rubio blasts Trump budget for ObamaCare 'bailout' provision
© Greg Nash

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash Senate adds members to pro-NATO group McConnell reassures Europe on Russia MORE (R-Fla.) on Tuesday criticized a provision of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE’s budget request that he said bails out ObamaCare insurers.

The White House budget calls for more than $800 million in mandatory appropriations to fully fund ObamaCare’s risk corridor program, which was created in 2014 to help cushion insurers from major losses during the early years of the federal insurance exchanges.

In a series of tweets, Rubio blasted the budget proposal for protecting the risk corridors from automatic spending cuts and listed a variety of other programs that he said should be protected instead.


The risk corridor program was intended to encourage insurers to participate in the ObamaCare exchanges. The idea was to establish a fund that would pay insurers who suffered heavy losses because they had too many sick people on their rolls and did not make enough money off premiums.


But the program struggled because too many insurers requested risk corridor money and too few paid into the fund.

In addition, efforts by Rubio and other Republican lawmakers ensured that the administration was only able to pay a fraction of what insurers said they were owed.

Rubio has been a leading critic of the risk corridors. In 2013, he went on the warpath against the program, decrying it as a “taxpayer bailout.” He penned op-eds against it, testified on the matter as the star witness at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing and even made his case to top House Republicans including then-Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFive GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus Ex-lawmakers see tough job market with trade groups Veterans are left out of medical marijuana protections MORE (R-Ohio).

He did not succeed in eliminating the program completely but was able to help Republicans insert a rider in a 2014 spending bill that required the program to be budget neutral.

The federal government could only pay out what it took in and was not able to tap other sources of money to pay for insurers losses.

Many insurers cited risk corridor losses as the reason they left the individual market. Now, the payments are the subject of lawsuits, as insurers claim the federal government owes them more than $8 billion.