Defunding Possibilities Are Narrow But Crucial

Most of the spending in Obamacare falls under the general rubric of “entitlements.” Entitlement spending on social programs is “mandatory” in federal budget parlance (as distinct from federal agency appropriations budgets, which are termed “discretionary”).

Obamacare’s health insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion above the poverty line are massive new entitlements.  The original Obamacare legislation said that if people meet certain criteria, they will be automatically eligible for the subsidies.  As such, spending on them is automatic, just as on food stamps, Supplemental Security Income, and other welfare programs. Congress does not appropriate a set amount of money for such programs. Rather, program eligibility criteria drive spending. Whoever qualifies (meets the eligibility criteria) gets a check. Obamacare subsidies work the same way. The spigot is wide open with no cap on ultimate spending.

Blocking Obamacare entitlement spending would require passing new legislation which would have to pass both houses of Congress and be signed by the President. Thus, experts believe it is not possible to defund Obamacare entitlement spending absent those actions.

However, it is still possible to defund some of the implementation of the law and stop it in its tracks. Grace-Marie Turner, Founder and President of the Galen Institute, told the Obamacare Truth Squad, “Our best defunding options in the coming Congress are to block new funding which the administration requests. CBO has predicted that both HHS and the IRS will need $5-10 billion each over the next 10 years, beyond what Obamacare itself provided, to set up the infrastructure to implement the law. HHS will need even more money if it is required to set up a number of Federal Exchanges in the states, work not anticipated when the law was passed.”

“The Administration will do all they can to shift money around and prioritize Obamacare implementation,” Turner continued. “This is one area where House oversight will be especially important — making sure the IRS and HHS are not shifting money appropriated for other uses to Obamacare implementation.”

The Obamacare Truth Squad believes that critics of government-run medicine should support House oversight and other efforts to deny new implementation funding.

But don’t forget, Turner advised, “the states will continue to be our best firewall, and they are going to need A LOT of help to combat liberal pleas for them to accept the Medicaid and Exchange subsidies.” In the Truth Squad’s view, the Republican governors are now the key to shielding the American people from the ruinous effects of this very bad law.

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