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POLITICS

The Obamacare piggy bank

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll

All the talk of President Obama being a “liberal Reagan” is a bit premature considering his signature domestic accomplishment, Obamacare, hasn’t even been implemented yet.

The law requires every state to have a federal exchange by October of this year and the vast majority of states have simply refused to create one. This means Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services has less than ten months to set up more than 25 insurance markets. And industry experts say it takes two to three years to properly set up just one.

Now throw in the fact that, as Politico reports today, Congress has already used Obamacare as a piggy bank to fund other spending deals multiple times since the bill became law:

The Affordable Care Act brings in a lot of new taxes and savings, but it also dishes out as much as $1.7 trillion in new spending over the next decade — money that looks awfully tempting to lawmakers scrounging around for ways to fund other projects or pay down the deficit.

Twice, as part of bipartisan deals, [Democrats] agreed to increase the amount Americans must pay if they get too generous a subsidy in the insurance exchanges. The first time was to pay for the 2010 doc fix to avoid deep physician fee cuts under Medicare, and the second time was to offset the cost of repealing new 1099 tax reporting requirements that both parties considered burdensome on businesses.

Last February, Obama signed legislation slashing $5 billion from the Prevention and Public Health Fund to help pay for a continuation of payroll tax breaks and other initiatives. The health care law gave the fund $15 billion in its first 10 years.

And just a few weeks ago, lawmakers agreed to cut funding for nonprofit health insurance cooperatives to help pay for another one-year doc fix. That was in the last-minute fiscal cliff deal.

Politico goes on to identify three other ways Congress could go back and drink Obamacare’s milkshake including, delaying implementation, reduce the number of Americans receiving health insurance subsidies, and cutting the Medicaid expansion.

Every time Congress cuts away at Obamacare funding, the easier it will be to fundamentally repeal the law later.

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