A few weeks back, I noted that a judge had ruled against the Obama administration in a dispute over health-insurance subsidies. Some background: Obamacare makes insurers reduce out of pocket costs, like deductibles, to low-income people who purchase qualifying plans; the government is supposed to reimburse the companies directly. However, Congress didn’t appropriate any money to pay for these subsidies. When the administration went ahead and paid the insurers anyway — distributing about $7 billion without congressional approval — House lawmakers sued.
Now it appears that House Republicans, and Judge Rosemary Collyer, aren’t the only folks who thought the administration’s actions were questionable. A report in the New York Times this weekend says that IRS officials raised concerns that the administration had no legal authority to spend the money.
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House Republicans and the Obama administration are clashing over subpoenas for ObamaCare documents. Republicans are upping the pressure on the administration, saying officials are withholding documents that Congress has every right to see.
At issue are two separate portions of ObamaCare. One is the Basic Health Program, which states can choose to implement and is aimed at providing choices for low-income people with slightly too much income to qualify for Medicaid. The other is the law’s “cost-sharing reductions” which are payments that help lower out-of pocket-costs for low-income ObamaCare enrollees.
“Your refusal to provide the requested documents and information raises serious concerns about the Department’s willingness to be accountable for the lawful execution of laws passed by Congress,” Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton and House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell on Tuesday.
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Two recently filed lawsuits illustrate continuing difficulties the administration faces in implementing the Affordable Care Act, particularly under the constraints imposed upon it recently by Congress. Specifically, the suits illustrate the legal difficulties for the administration created by Congress’ limiting of “risk corridor” payments—made to insurers with high claims costs—to amounts contributed to the risk corridor program by insurers with low costs. Last year, CMS announced that it would have only $362 million in contributions to pay out $2.87 billion in requested payments, and so would only pay out 12.6 cents on the dollar for payment claims.
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The Obama Administration is unlawfully diverting billions of dollars from taxpayers to insurance companies that sell Obamacare policies.
That is the conclusion reached in a legal opinion letter released today by former Ambassador and White House Counsel Boyden Gray.
Mr. Gray’s letter reinforces the conclusion of legal experts at the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service who found that the administration’s actions “would appear to be in conflict with the plain text” of the Obamacare statute.
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Earlier this week, as was widely reported, Judge Rosemary Collyer of the District of Columbia District Court prohibited the Obama administration from continuing to divert money Congress had appropriated for federal tax refunds to instead pay insurance companies billions of dollars in “cost sharing reductions,” part of the Affordable Care Act.
The decision affects more than just the cost sharing reduction program. Just as a teaser, if upheld on appeal – and expect this case to get to the United States Supreme Court – the decision means that some high level Obama administration officials run a serious risk of criminal charges being brought against them should a subsequent President and Attorney General be motivated to pursue them.
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Oracle has had enough of Oregon. The business technology giant has decided it will no longer take on new business with the state’s government amid an ongoing legal battle, Oracle senior vice president Ken Glueck told Fortune on Wednesday.
The decision follows a protracted legal tussle between the two parties over a disastrous state healthcare enrollment website that never came online. In 2011, Oregon enlisted Oracle to build a healthcare exchange website related to Obamacare after being impressed by the company’s sales pitch, according to a previous legal filing.
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Highmark could soon be in good company in suing the federal government over Affordable Care Act reimbursement.
Other insurers have contacted Highmark since the Pittsburgh carrier filed a lawsuit Tuesday over reimbursement for losses incurred in providing coverage under the ACA, president and CEO David Holmberg said Wednesday. The companies are weighing their options to recoup billions of dollars they say are owed, he said.
“The losses were pretty significant,” Mr. Holmberg said. “We ended up with the other companies standing here holding the bag. We saw no path forward.”
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Though it was more a TKO than a straight-up ruling, the Little Sisters of the Poor prevailed at the Supreme Court on Monday in their fight against the ObamaCare contraceptive mandate.
True, the justices made clear that they were not ruling on the merits, which is why so many headlines speak of the court’s having “punted” on the case. Even so, in a unanimous decision they made the path forward much easier for the sisters and much more difficult for the Obama administration.
To begin with, the justices vacated the lower-court rulings the sisters were fighting. The parties, the court said, should have another opportunity to work out a way to deliver contraceptives that doesn’t violate the religious objections of the Little Sisters and their co-plaintiffs.
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Last Thursday, the Obama administration suffered a legal setback, when a federal judge in Washington ruled that the administration exceeded its authority by paying out cost-sharing subsidies to health insurers under the Affordable Care Act.
The administration will doubtless appeal the case, which was brought by the Republican-led House of Representatives, but whether those appeals succeed may well depend on whether courts view the case as one of statutory interpretation, or one with constitutional implications.
In its briefs in the case, the administration tried to portray House v. Burwell as a successor case to King v. Burwell, another lawsuit surrounding Obamacare subsidy payments, which the Supreme Court decided in June 2015.
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Major insurer Highmark Inc. is suing the federal government, saying the feds failed to live up to obligations to pay the insurer nearly $223 million from an ObamaCare program known as “risk corridors,” which aimed to limit the financial risks borne by insurers entering the new health-law markets. The suit is likely to draw close attention because it comes from a company that continues to be a major player in the exchanges.
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