The Obama administration has been illegally funding Obamacare “Cost Sharing Reduction” (CSR) payments for years over the objections of IRS officials, according to a report released today by the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Since Congress launched its investigation, multiple agencies have refused to provide information, selectively applied the law, and even pressured one witness not to testify.
-The administration initially submitted a CSR appropriations request for Fiscal Year 2014, but later withdrew it and began making payments illegally. As the report notes, Obamacare created CSR payments, but they have never been appropriated for. The Constitution explicitly makes clear that the power of the purse lies with Congress and the Executive cannot spend taxpayer money without Congressional approval.
-CSR payments were created as one way to artificially hide the true costs of Obamacare through a web of government spending programs. CSR payments would be given to an insurance company based on the income of an enrollee and the plan they purchased. Assuming certain criteria were met, the insurance company would receive federal dollars as an incentive to keep co-payments, deductibles, and other out of pocket costs low.
-After officials from the Obama Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) withdrew the CSR appropriations request, the administration begun illegally shifting funds from a separate appropriation. The administration has refused to provide the legal memorandum that led to this decision even in the face of Congressional subpoenas.
-IRS officials expressed concern that this method of funding CSR payments was illegal so were briefed on the memorandum. As the report notes in an interview with one IRS official at the meeting, they were not permitted to take notes or keep a copy of the memo:
“We were given a memo to read. We were instructed we were not to take notes and we would not be keeping the memo, we’d be giving it back at the end of the meeting.”