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Senate Republicans warn House against Obamacare bailout

In this Jan. 8, 2014 file photo, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Rubio is positioning himself as the leading foreign policy hawk among Republicans considering runs for the White House, pushing for more military spending and greater intervention abroad as the United States confronts Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

A group of Senate Republicans led by Marco Rubio (Fla.), and which includes Ted Cruz (Texas), Rand Paul (Ky.) and others, have warned the House that it needs to take steps later this year to stop the Obama administration from bailing out health insurance companies under Obamacare.

In a Wednesday letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), these senators said the administration is hoping to use existing money to bail out health insurance companies facing higher-than-expected costs under Obamacare. But they said the House must pass language in the next bill funding the federal government to prevent that from happening.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and several other GOP senators are warning the House that it needs to pass a spending bill that doesn't allow for an Obamacare bailout of insurance companies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

"The American people expect us, as members of Congress, to fulfill our oath of office and defend the Constitution," they wrote. "Therefore, we must act to protect Congress' power of the purse and prohibit the Obama administration from dispersing unlawful risk corridor payments providing for an Obamacare taxpayer bailout."

Republicans have been closing watching for signs that the Obama administration might fund a bailout of insurance companies since the late spring. Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services put out a rule indicating that it is thinking about how to keep health insurers afloat in case costs suddenly rise.

Specifically, Obamacare includes language that set up a "risk corridors" program, under which profitable health insurers will pay some of their income to companies that aren't profitable. That program was seen as a way to insure against the possibility that Obamacare would case costs to rise and make some insurers unprofitable.

Since then, signs have emerged that there may not be enough money to cover all the losses expected by insurance companies. CMS has said it wants to use "other sources of funding" to make insurers whole if it has to, but Republican say only Congress can authorize this bailout.

"Unfortunately, President Obama and his administration have exhibited their intent to disregard the law and ignore the Constitution," the senators wrote.

The letter didn't say specifically what the House should do, but one option could be to take the money from other areas of the government to allow for the bailout.

Another option would be to simply prevent any kind of bailout from happening, which could be more likely. Back in May, a House GOP aide said Republicans have not been inclined to support any new funding to implement the law.

Other signatories to the Republican letter were Sens. John Barrasso (Wyo.), John Boozman (Ark.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Deb Fischer (Neb.), Jim Inhofe (Okla.), Mike Lee (Utah), John McCain (Ariz.), Pat Roberts (Kan.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), and David Vitter (La.). Read their letter here:

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