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Recidivism Watch: Rubio again wrongly suggests he damaged Obamacare

(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“Dear Senator Rubio, I just read an article explaining how you put language into a spending bill last year that prevents the government from bailing out insurers that participate in Obamacare. Thank you for doing that….”

— letter posted in a tweet by Marco Rubio, Jan. 11, 2016

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is once again spreading the fiction that he was the lawmaker responsible for a provision in a spending bill that has wounded the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. He previously earned Four Pinocchios for making this claim.

Note that the anonymous letter-writer in the tweet refers to an article that explained this. This appears to be a reference to a New York Times report that got this basic fact wrong in its first sentence and in its front-page print-edition headline: “Rubio Measure Delivers a Blow to Health Law.”

Yet amazingly, a month later, there is still no correction of the article or the headline. [Update, Jan. 14: The New York Times corrected the article and rewrote portions of it. “Other Republicans were ultimately responsible," the newspaper acknowledged.]

To recap, Rubio did raise concerns about a provision of the massive law that was intended to protect insurance companies from losses if they did not properly estimate premiums in the initial three years of the law. But his legislative method — a bill — did not get very far.

Instead, a trio of other lawmakers in the Senate and House laid the groundwork to get a provision slipped into a massive spending bill. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), then ranking member of the Budget Committee, and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, came up with a new strategy of attacking the legality of the payments. They also enlisted the help of then-Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who chaired the appropriations panel that funds the Department of Health and Human Services and the Labor Department.

It was Kingston who slipped the provision in the bill, in negotiations with then-Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Rubio had signed a letter urging such an action, but Kingston says he never saw the letter.

The Fact Checker Recidivism Watch tracks politicians who repeat claims that we have previously found to be incorrect or false. These posts are short summaries of previous findings, with links to the original fact-check. We welcome reader suggestions.

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