Speed Reads

someone's in trouble

The IRS warned Obama it was illegal to pay ObamaCare subsidies to insurance companies

In a sworn deposition newly made public, the IRS's Chief Risk Officer David Fisher told the House Ways and Means Committee that he had raised concerns to the Obama administration in 2014 when it was about to authorize subsidies to insurance companies as part of ObamaCare, a move which a judge ruled was illegal in early May.

Fisher's testimony suggests the White House knew it was breaking the law when it decided to go forward with the subsidies. He testified to telling administration officials that "there was no clear reference in the section regarding the cost-sharing reduction payments to the Internal Revenue Code in the Affordable Care Act" and the "cost-sharing reduction payments are not linked to the Internal Revenue Code, as far as I could tell, directly anywhere."

If this all sounds obscure and complicated, that's because it is. Two years ago, the White House asked Congress for money to subsidize insurance companies participating in ObamaCare. The payments, designed to cover the costs of insuring people whose income was at or below 400 percent of the poverty line, were authorized by the Affordable Care Act but never appropriated by the legislature, which holds the power of the purse.

In other words, the concept of the subsidies was legal, but actually paying them was not, absent additional action from Congress.