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Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) drinks water before giving his speech at the Faith & Freedom Coalition Road to Majority Conference Kickoff Luncheon in Washington June 13, 2013.   REUTERS/Gary Cameron
Rubio wants the GOP to swallow yet another false claim about Obamacare
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida invents a new reason to oppose Obamacare, claiming that the legislation secretly created a taxpayer-subsidized slush fund giving the Obama administration the authority to bail out political allies in the health insurance industry. In Rubio's words:
When ObamaCare was debated and passed in 2009 and 2010, none of its proponents, including the president, told the American people that the law granted the federal government the authority to bail out insurance companies at the expense of taxpayers. But now their dirty little secret is out, and it should be wiped out from the law.

Americans are sick and tired of Washington politicians picking winners and losers—and nowhere is this practice more grotesquely evident than taxpayer-funded bailouts, which assault the economic values of our free enterprise system in favor of those who are politically connected and whose lobbyists know the right people to call and levers to pull. ObamaCare is a living monument to this culture, and no one loses more than the average American.

If this were true, it would be cause for alarm, but aside from the ludicrous claim about secrecy—the legislation has been publicly available from the start—he's badly distorting the the reality of what the legislation does in order to make his deceptive bailout claim.

As Michael Hiltzik of the L.A. Times explains, Rubio is talking about a provision of the health care law that creates "risk corridors" to protect insurance companies from the possibility of getting a more sick customers than expected by covering some (but not all) of their expenses above their "target cost." These "risk corridors" don't just protect insurers, however: They also protect consumers by requiring insurers whose actual costs are below their target cost to refund a portion of the money to the federal government.

There's no guarantee the two line items will balance out, but the risk corridor provision does not create a secret discretionary bailout fund as Rubio claims. Instead, it creates a temporary mechanism that will last just three years to help mitigate risk as insurers determine appropriate prices. Without it, insurers would raise prices, effectively dealing a double whammy to consumers since insurance companies would be allowed to pocket the additional profits, even as consumers are mandated to buy their product.

As Rubio surely must understand, risk corridors are an essential part of Obamacare. It's one thing for him to propose repealing Obamacare in its entirety, but for him to propose removing a provision like this without offering an alternative mechanism for stabilizing prices is nothing but demagoguery. If you're going to call yourself a transplant surgeon, removing the patient's heart isn't enough—you need a replacement. Fortunately for Rubio, that's something that the Republican presidential primary voters he's trying to woo don't understand.

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