Congress will likely cap an Obamacare program that some Republicans have labeled a "bailout" for insurance companies—and the industry says premiums will likely increase as a result.
The omnibus spending bill unveiled Tuesday night would limit the Affordable Care Act's "risk corridors" program, which is part of a three-tiered safety net for insurance companies that sell coverage in the law's exchanges.
Risk corridors caused a dust-up earlier this year between insurers and some Republicans, and the same disagreements are at play now. The insurance industry said the limits proposed in the latest spending bill are counterproductive, while Sen. Marco Rubio said he'll still push to repeal risk corridors altogether.
Risk corridors have been used in the past without much fuss, but Obamacare's risk corridors became controversial earlier this year when some Republicans, led by Rubio, criticized the program as a "bailout" for insurance companies and sought to repeal it.
The program works by collecting money from insurers whose Obamacare experience is better than they expected, and using that money to cushion the blow for insurers whose real-world experience is worse than they expected. Insurers set their premiums each year based on who they think will sign up and how many claims those new customers might file. If their customers ended up healthier than they expected, they pay into a pool. If their customers are sicker than they anticipated and their premiums were set too low, they can receive a payment from the same pool.