It’s been a rough couple of weeks for power-hungry bureaucrats.
Recently, the General Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report faulting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for being unable to produce itemized spending documents, and thus not complying with federal audit guidelines.
This week, the non-partisan government watchdog agency issued a legal opinion saying CMS does not have the authority to bail out ObamaCare-aligned insurance companies, unless Congress agrees.
GAO’s non-binding but influential legal opinion was generated by a request from congressional Republicans concerned about a CMS announcement that it would use money appropriated for other activities to fund ObamaCare’s “risk corridor” program.
Risk corridors refer to a scheme within ObamaCare to compensate insurance companies who lose more than a specified amount of money covering high-cost patients. Initially, funds are redistributed from highly profitable companies. But if the losses exceed a certain threshold, federal taxpayers step in via CMS, the primary agency implementing ObamaCare.
With all of ObamaCare’s pricey mandates – most importantly “guaranteed issue,” which requires insurers to enroll customers with preexisting conditions – there is concern that significant losses among participating companies could put taxpayers on the hook to bailout several firms in the health insurance industry.
It’s worth noting that GAO released its legal opinion on the same day Federal District Judge Ronald A. White struck down a similar bureaucratic power grab by the Internal Revenue Service. While the timing is unconnected, the central issue is not. In both cases agencies within the Obama administration are attempting an end run around the plain meaning of a statute in order to make the president’s legacy program appear to work better than it is.
The rule of law is more important than avoiding bad press for a poorly written bill. Bravo to the GAO and Judge White for having the courage to hold the executive branch accountable.