10.16.2017 0

Following the Constitution. What a concept!

By Printus LeBlanc

Thursday, October 12, was a big day for the Constitution. President Trump followed the law and the Constitution but hammered in the mainstream media his actions. The press coverage has been nothing short of embarrassing for an industry that screams “what about the Constitution” when the President sends out a tweet. What is the big deal, what happened?

President Trump ended some corporate subsidies on Thursday night, and people are freaking out. The subsidies at the center of all the attention are contained in section 1402 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. For years, insurance companies received government payments known as Cost-Sharing Reduction Payments (CSRs). Obamacare was designed to reimburse insurers for providing the cost-sharing subsidies to low-income customers who purchased exchange coverage.

The payments began in 2014 and had ballooned to $7 billion this year, and are expected to cost $16 billion per year by 2027. It is believed the funds are vital to keeping the insurance companies in the exchange.

But, Congress forgot to appropriate funds for the section, unlike other sections of the law.

The House of Representatives believed the payments were unconstitutional and took action against the Obama administration by suing it in November of 2014. The House was not claiming the program was not in Obamacare, but the money for the program was not appropriated. It is up to Congress to appropriate money for programs.

The founding fathers gave the power of the purse to Congress for a reason. They did not want the ability to spend money in the hands of one person, but instead, put the power in the hands of the people. James Madison described the power in The Federalist 58, “This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.”

Therefore, the Constitution gives Congress the power of appropriations. Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 states, “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.”

On May 12, 2016, Judge Rosemary Collyer, a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, ruled in favor the House, declaring the payments unlawful. However, the Obama administration planned an appeal and kept the payments up. The Trump administration kept the payments up in hopes of reaching a legislative resolution quickly. As we have seen with the multiple failures of Obamacare repeal, that hasn’t happened.

The media and those in favor of the ACA are screaming without the continued illegal payments premiums will go up, and it will hurt the poor. Perhaps they have been asleep for past few years. Obamacare premiums increased 25 percent between 2016 and 2017, with another significant spike expected to come in 2018. Maybe they missed those spikes.

Under Obamacare, the insurance companies cannot raise the rates because they are still required to reduce cost-sharing amounts. The only change is there are no more subsidies to the insurance companies. You would think liberal progressives would be happy with taking money from insurance companies?

Americans for Limited Government President Richard Manning discussed the move stating, “After the Senate failed twice to replace Obamacare, President Trump decided to tip over the table by denying health insurers subsidy payments that were not authorized by Congress. President Trump is right constitutionally. Since Congress never authorized these bailouts, they should have never been paid in the first place. Politically, Trump’s decision to follow the Constitution and deny unauthorized payments changes everything. While the American people were Obamacare losers, the health insurers through their subsidies and guaranteed customers had the game rigged in their favor. By eliminating the insurance company bailout, one of the few Obamacare winners will now desperately seek changes in the law. This altered political dynamic breathes new life into an honest replacement bill that ends the individual and employer mandates, increases state flexibility and lowers premiums. Just when everyone thought the Obamacare repeal effort was dead, President Trump has changed everything simply by following the U.S. Constitution. What a concept.”

What President Trump has done, is force Congress to do its job. If Congress wishes for the subsidies to continue, it can appropriate the funds. Better yet, Congress can do what it promised in the campaign, and repeal and replace Obamacare. The longer Congress waits to act, the more painful it will be for them. The President is moving forward with his promise to repeal and replace, and he has the law and Constitution on his side. At least someone is keeping their word in D.C.

Printus LeBlanc is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government

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