Politics & Policy

Sink the Obamacare Bailout

Most Americans oppose tax-funded support for insurance companies that lose money under Obamacare.

When Congress reconvenes on Monday, September 8, Republicans should fire a torpedo directly into the USS Obamacare. It would blast the creaking vessel’s hull well below the waterline and possibly flood the engine room. And for this, a recent survey reveals, Americans of all stripes would cheer wildly.

Republicans must sink the Obamacare bailout. Believe it or not, Obamacare forces taxpayers to help health-insurance companies absorb significant losses that they incur through Obama’s medical scheme. According to the House Government Oversight Committee, this could cost $1 billion this year alone. This outrage — lodged on page 233 of the original 2,409-page Obamacare bill — would be awful enough if these insurers were prosperous, albeit unwitting, victims of Obama’s $2.6 trillion entitlement. Instead, insurance companies helped pile-drive Obamacare down the throats of Americans, a majority of whom opposed this legislation and loathe it more today than yesterday. Hard data now demonstrate that Americans hate the Obamacare bailout — all across the political spectrum.

McLaughlin & Associates surveyed 1,000 likely voters last June. It asked a simple, straightforward question:

“If private insurance companies lose money selling health insurance under Obamacare, should taxpayers help cover their losses?”

The reaction was volcanic.

McLaughlin found that 81.2 percent of respondents said “No” to this concept, while only 9.9 percent approved. Another 8.9 percent were not sure what to think.

This idea is universally despised, even without garnishing it with a red-meat phrase like “the Obamacare Bailout.” McLaughlin’s gently posed question yields widespread revulsion.

Single women hate this concept. Liberals hate it. Obama voters hate it. If the Obamacare bailout wants a friend, it should buy a dog.

Consider the huge percentages by which these often left-of-center population segments just say “No!” to the Obamacare bailout:

‐Students: 67.6               

‐Blacks: 69.2

‐Hispanics: 72.7

‐18- to 29-year-olds: 75.0

‐Women: 79.3

‐Democrats: 75.7

‐Government workers: 82.4

‐Independents: 83.2

Even among self-identified “very liberal” respondents, 22 percent back the Obamacare bailout, but 68.6 percent disapprove.

Those least disgusted with the Obamacare bailout are, oddly enough, self-described liberal Republicans. They may be more pro–big business than pro–free enterprise. As such, some of them may smile as the federal government vacuums hard-earned tax dollars from the wallets of regular workers and pumps them into the vaults of multi-billion-dollar, pro-government corporations. But even here, only 30.7 percent of these RINOs applaud Obamacare’s exercise in cronyism. Another 66.9 percent disapprove. So, the Obamacare bailout loses badly among the Nelson Rockefeller–George Elmer Pataki crowd.

This datum may be the most encouraging to Obamacare’s foes: Among those very likely to vote in the November 4 midterm elections, 82 percent reject the Obamacare bailout.

With a margin of error of just plus or minus 3.1 percent, McLaughlin’s survey is solid. Also, the groups mentioned above include more than 30 respondents each. Thus, they are statistically significant and reflect the broader subpopulations that McLaughlin sampled. Behind these figures stand millions of Americans who would be thrilled to be rid of this mess.

As Republicans and free-marketeers work to junk the Obamacare bailout, they should not babble in Washingtonese. They should avoid debating whether or not Section 1342 of the Affordable Care Act is revenue-neutral as the result of reinsurance contributions collected by the U.S. Treasury across multiple fiscal years.


This program officially is called “Risk Corridor.” This is baffling, yet strangely intriguing. (“Coming soon: Risk Corridor, starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. Directed by the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.”)

Just call it “the Obamacare bailout.” This phrase should turn an idea opposed by 81.2 percent of the public into something even more toxic. Support likely will fall to 5 percent or lower, and the numbers of undecided respondents will crater, too. If likely voters oppose “the Obamacare bailout” by 90 percent — with 5 percent in favor and 5 percent still clueless — congressional Republicans will have no excuse for not drowning this rotten sliver of this wretched law.

“With Obamacare’s costs rising and projected to cost more than $2 trillion over the next decade, and its damage on people’s jobs and work hours continuing,” Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) recently wrote, “it’s clear this law has failed. It’s time to repeal and replace it, but at the very least, we should make it the law of the land that health insurers won’t be bailed out by taxpayers because ObamaCare has not proven to be as profitable as its proponents hoped it would be.”

To his great credit, Senator Rubio has sponsored legislation to stop the Obamacare bailout, as has Representative Leonard Lance (R., N.J.). Rubio and Lance aim to scuttle the vile mechanism — scheduled for 2014, ’15, and ’16 — whereby a health insurer would declare an expected profit target; if losses exceed that benchmark by 3 to 8 percent, federal taxpayers would reimburse 50 percent of that shortfall. If an insurer’s costs outpace his revenue target by more than 8 percent, hardworking American taxpayers would mop up 80 percent of that red ink.

If Democrats try to justify all of this, the specifics will enrage Americans even further. Jeffrey H. Anderson, executive director of the 2017 Project, which commissioned the McLaughlin survey, cannot wait to see vulnerable incumbent legislators such as Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire try to defend this massive giveaway.

“I think the key is to have House Republicans vote to end the bailout,” Anderson tells me. “And then, pro-Obamacare Democrats can explain why they want to use tax dollars to bail out their insurance-company allies. That should make Obamacare all the more popular.”

Representative Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) already has slammed his U.S. Senate opponent for backing this boondoggle. Senator Mark Pryor thought it was a good idea to bail out Wall Street and Detroit, as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” Cotton remarked. “So we shouldn’t be surprised that he thinks Arkansas taxpayers should help foot the bill when big insurance companies lose money selling Obamacare insurance.”

The GOP House would be wise to attach the Rubio–Lance language as a solitary amendment to must-pass appropriations bills. This would make it tough for Senate Democrat leader Harry Reid of Nevada to bury the anti-bailout measure in a shallow grave, as he already has interred some 347 House-passed bills, just since January. To borrow a phrase from writer Andy Wickersham, this will make life rough for Democrats in Republican Territory (DIRT).

Rubio calls the Obamacare bailout “government favoritism and corporate cronyism at its worst.”  Rubio is absolutely right. Voting to kill the Obamacare bailout would give Republicans a rare opportunity to throw big business overboard. The GOP has no business being the party of corporate welfare. This time, let “pro–little guy” Democrats stick up for these huge, whoring companies. 

Once insurers see the safety net being removed from beneath them, they might stop their high-wire waltz with Obama. If health-insurance companies actually face the full losses they deserve for their wicked dance with Obama, they might find it far less pleasant to embrace him cheek-to-cheek. If that unbribes these CEOs, sours them on Obamacare, and turns some of them into full-throated opponents of this hideous new law, so much the better. Without the support of Big Insurance and, more so, with their criticism, it will be that much harder for Obama to sustain his signature “accomplishment.”

Mr. Speaker, I call for the yeas and nays!

(For more details on McLaughlin’s survey, please click here and see below.)

— Deroy Murdock is a New York–based Fox News contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor, a contributor to National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


The Latest