SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mike Lee is among conservative Republicans speaking out against what they see as an "Obamacare" bailout in the $1.3 trillion spending bill Congress will consider this week to keep government running.
America’s Health Insurance Plan, the lobbying arm of the health insurance industry, sent a letter to GOP leadership demanding billions of dollars in new subsidies for Affordable Care Act insurance policies. The letter did not mention that health insurance companies are already enjoying record-high profits without additional taxpayer subsidies, Lee wrote in his weekly newsletter.
"Unfortunately, congressional leadership appears committed to giving the insurance companies what they want," the Utah Republican said.
House Republican leaders are expected to release a $1.3 trillion spending package this week that would fund the government through Sept. 30, the end of this fiscal year.
The House and Senate must pass the legislation and President Donald Trump must sign it before Saturday to prevent a partial shutdown of government agencies.
Lee has never voted for an omnibus spending bill but isn't taking any position on this bill until after reading it, said his spokesman, Conn Carroll.
The legislation could include funding that would help health insurers lower premiums on the plans they sell on the exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act, which Lee said could amount to $10 billion a year over the next three years.
Republicans in Congress were elected to repeal the Affordable Care Act, not bail it out, he said.
On top of being bad policy, those payments would fund abortions unless the Hyde Amendment — an anti-abortion protection preventing taxpayer-funded abortion — is specifically applied, Lee said.
None of the bailout proposals include the amendment, he said.
Lee said states must be allowed to run their own health insurance markets again.
"Bailing out Obamacare’s fundamental failures only puts the real goal further out of reach," he said.