House Republicans Win Affordable Care Act Lawsuit

In a win for House Republicans, a federal judge took their side this week. D.C. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled that under the Affordable Care Act, the White House was wrongly reimbursing insurers with funds not appropriated by Congress. Judge Collyer blocked further reimbursement payments but also stayed the ruling to allow the Obama administration the opportunity to appeal, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The lawsuit, which was filed in 2014, alleges that the administration is defying Congress by paying insurance companies billions of dollars, a significant part of the law’s attempt to reduce insurance costs, that were not appropriated by lawmakers. The Obama administration claims it was faithfully implementing the law and that the funds were permanently available from a part of the law that provides money for subsidies. Disagreeing, the judge ruled that this type of appropriation cannot be inferred and that Congress is the only source for that permission.

If the House prevails with the ruling, most of the law would likely still stand, since the case targets specific and narrow sections of the Affordable Care Act.

The judge’s ruling doesn’t affect the set of subsidies that help reduce premium costs on the exchange. Instead it applies to cost-sharing payments that help consumers with out of pocket co-payments, coinsurance, and deductibles.