House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith, R-MO., and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman David Schweikert, R-Ariz., want to look into the belief that some nonprofit groups are violating the law by funneling money from foreign actors in order to influence our elections.
The House Republicans released an open letter soliciting input:
“Public reporting has raised questions about whether tax-exempt sectors are operating in a manner consistent with the laws and regulations that govern such organizations and whether foreign funds are flowing through these organizations to influence American politics,” the letter said.
The lawmakers argue that Democrats have leveraged these kinds of groups, though both sides of the aisle could take advantage of loopholes of this kind. They point to one Swiss billionaire, Hansjörg Wyss, who has reportedly poured millions of dollars into the U.S. political system through dark money groups.
“For example, the Committee has learned that a Super Political Action Committee (PAC) recommended donations to 501(c)(3) organizations as ‘the single most effective tactic for ensuring Democratic victories’ and that large donations from a wealthy donor to state election offices in 2020 may have been done in a manner that helps one political party over another,” the letter said. “Additionally, the Committee has also found that significant amounts of foreign money is flowing through 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations to influence elections.”
The letter requests information regarding the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and if it adequately tracks how foreign money could flow through these groups.
“According to a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, IRS examiners ‘do not review the national origin of sources of donations reported’ by tax-exempt organizations on the Form 990, “and do not assess an organization’s compliance with FECA provisions during audits,” the letter said.
“Given concerns over foreign influence in our elections, should IRS examiners review the national origin of sources of donations reported by a tax-exempt organization on the agency’s IRS Form 990-series?”
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Elizabeth Warren Acknowledges Unintended Consequences of Obamacare
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a longtime supporter of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is now acknowledging the unintended consequences of the healthcare legislation, particularly its impact on industry consolidation and rising healthcare prices.
Warren, who has been a vocal proponent of Obamacare, has recently had what the Wall Street Journal reported as an “epiphany” regarding the consequences of the healthcare law. In a letter addressed to the Health and Human Services Department inspector general, Warren, along with Senator Mike Braun of Indiana, expressed concerns about vertically-integrated healthcare companies potentially increasing prescription drug costs and evading federal regulations.
According to reports from Fox News, the bipartisan letter highlighted issues with the nation’s largest health insurers allegedly bypassing Obamacare’s medical loss ratio (MLR). According to Warren, these insurers, through vertical integration, have manipulated the system, leading to “sky-high prescription drug costs and excessive corporate profits.”
The senators detailed how conglomerates, like UnitedHealth Group, with ownership across various healthcare sectors, could inflate medical payments to pharmacies and, by realizing those payments on the pharmacy side, appear to comply with MLR requirements while retaining more profits.
Moreover, despite the Democrats’ argument that the MLR would benefit patients, it has incentivized insurers to merge with or acquire pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), retail and specialty pharmacies, and healthcare providers. This, in turn, has made healthcare spending less transparent, as insurers can allegedly shift profits to their affiliates by increasing reimbursements.
Warren, who has consistently voted against Obamacare repeal efforts, notably advocated for a “Medicare for All” proposal during her 2020 presidential campaign. Despite her prior support for the healthcare law, Warren’s recent concerns about its unintended consequences have raised questions about the long-term effects of Obamacare and its impact on the healthcare industry.
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