Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Obama Administration Unlawfully Reimbursed Health Insurers, Judge Rules

House Republicans win challenge, but judge stays ruling pending the government's appeal.

From Zoe Tillman writing at The National Law Journal:
The Obama administration unlawfully paid billions of dollars to insurance providers under the Affordable Care Act without a funding appropriation from Congress, a federal district judge in Washington ruled.
The insurance subsidies were designed to offset discounts that insurers were required to give eligible lower-income Americans [making less than 250% of the Federal Poverty Level] under the health care reform law. U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer said federal agencies could not fund the subsidies through another section of the health care law that allocated money for tax credits.
“Paying out Section 1402 reimbursements without an appropriation thus violates the Constitution,” Collyer wrote. “Congress authorized reduced cost sharing but did not appropriate monies for it, in the FY 2014 budget or since. Congress is the only source for such an appropriation, and no public money can be spent without one." ...
[The] ruling won’t take effect right away. Collyer stayed an injunction that would block further payments to insurance companies in order to give the executive branch the opportunity to appeal. ...
Jonathan Turley, the George Washington University Law School professor who represented the House plaintiffs, called Collyer’s ruling “a resounding victory not just for Congress but for our constitutional system as a whole.”
Turley said in a statement: “We remain a system based on the principle of the separation of powers and the guarantee that no branch or person can govern alone. It is the very touchstone of the American constitutional system and today that principle was reaffirmed in this historic decision." ...