The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled Tuesday that Democratic state attorneys general can defend crucial ObamaCare payments to insurers, as President Trump has indicated he may cut them off. The court granted a motion that a coalition of 16 attorneys general — led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — filed, according to a court order uploaded by Reuters. It’s possible this decision could make it harder for the appeal to be dropped, healthcare experts suggested.
This development comes just as the Trump administration is about to make a determination on whether to pay the next installment of cost sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies at issue in the case, House v. Price. The subsidies increase the generosity of silver tier plans sold on state health benefit exchanges to households earning less than 250 percent of federal poverty levels to make out of pocket costs more affordable to low income households. President Trump signaled following the failure of the Senate last week to pass legislation amending the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that he would withhold authorization for the subsidies, calling them a “bailout” of health plan issuers.
A federal district court ruled in May 2016 the subsidies would have to be specifically appropriated by Congress. The lower court put the ruling on hold to allow the Trump administration and the House of Representatives — which challenged the constitutionality of funding the subsidies by the executive branch — to determine how to proceed. Now with 16 states granted standing in the case, the litigation could take a different turn and potentially limit the Trump administration’s ability to take unilateral action to end funding of the CSR subsidies.
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