Upton, Sessions Press HHS for Answers On ‘Unlawful’ Risk Corridor Payments

June 10, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-AL) sent a letter to newly-installed Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell regarding the legal ability of HHS to issue payments to health insurance providers through the health care law’s risk corridor program. Upton and Sessions write, “Under current law, payments made under the risk corridor program would constitute an unlawful transfer of potentially billions of taxpayer dollars to insurers offering qualified health plans under the president’s health care law.”

Referencing both a memo prepared by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service and precedent outlined in the Government Accountability Office’s Principles of Appropriations Law, Upton and Sessions highlight that the provision of the president’s health care law creating the risk corridor program, “does not specify a source of funding for the program.” The congressional leaders express concern that, “HHS may not make payments under Section 1342 absent additional congressional action appropriating funds for such payments. Without an explicit appropriation, any money spent on the risk corridor program would be based on an illegal transfer of funds and your agency could be held in violation of the Antideficiency Act.”

Upton and Sessions specifically ask Secretary Burwell whether she agrees with the legal precedent and interpretations of CRS and the GAO. Additionally they are seeking any legal analysis prepared by HHS regarding its statutory authority or ability to make payments through this program under current law.

Read the complete letter online here