CROSS: Obamacare Bailout To Help Democrats in Congressional Elections

Ah, your tax dollars at work.

From the LA Times, Federal funds earmarked to offset Affordable Care Act insurer losses:

The Obama administration has quietly adjusted key provisions of its signature healthcare law to potentially make billions of additional taxpayer dollars available to the insurance industry if companies providing coverage through the Affordable Care Act lose money.

The move was buried in hundreds of pages of new regulations issued late last week. It comes as part of an intensive administration effort to hold down premium increases for next year, a top priority for the White House as the rates will be announced ahead of this fall’s congressional elections.

Administration officials for months have denied charges by opponents that they plan a “bailout” for insurance companies providing coverage under the healthcare law.

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The stakes are high for President Obama and the healthcare law.

Although more than 8 million people signed up for health coverage under the law, exceeding expectations, insurance companies in several states have been eyeing significant rate increases for next year amid concerns that their new customers are older and sicker than anticipated.

Insurers around the country have started to file proposed 2015 premiums, just as the midterm campaigns are heating up. Obamacare, as the law is often called, remains a top campaign issue, and big premium increases in states with tightly contested races could prove politically disastrous for Democrats.

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To stabilize this new system, the law set up a complex system of funds, including one known as the Temporary Risk Corridors Program, that collect money from insurers and transfer it from companies with healthier, less expensive consumers to those with sicker, more costly consumers.

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Pressure is most acute on insurers in states where healthy consumers were allowed to remain in old plans that are not sold on the new online marketplaces, an option Obama offered to states amid a political firestorm over plan cancellations last year. The president had promised people would be able to stick with their plans.

The renewal temporarily solved a political problem for the White House, but created a new one. Maintaining these old plans kept many healthy consumers out of the marketplaces, making the pool of new customers less healthy and therefore potentially more expensive for insurers, according to experts.