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.
. . .
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.
. . .
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.”
. . .
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.
. . .
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.
. . .
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.
. . .
The Supreme Court unanimously remanded a case challenging the ACA’s contraceptive mandate back to the United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fifth, Tenth and D.C. Circuits. The decision will give the parties an opportunity to reach a compromise that “accommodates petitioners’ religious exercise” while ensuring women covered by the petitioner’s health plans receive coverage that includes contraception. The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, which brought the lawsuit one behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor, called the ruling a win for the petitioners.
. . .
District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer has ruled for Congress in House v. Burwell, a case challenging the authority of the executive branch to pay Obamacare subsidies for which no money has been appropriated.
These are not the highest-profile subsidies; they’re something called the cost-sharing reduction, which lowers the deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses for families buying silver plans who make less than 250 percent of the poverty line. The federal government has paid the insurers a lot of money that wasn’t appropriated, and the House has sued to stop that.
. . .
The legal war over ObamaCare is back.
A federal judge gave House Republicans a significant victory on Thursday when she ruled that the administration is illegally making certain ObamaCare payments without a congressional appropriation.
Still, the case is far from over. Democrats are turning their attention to the appeal of the ruling, and experts say the case does not pose the same mortal threat to the healthcare law that previous challenges did.
. . .
The Obama administration’s continuing efforts to rewrite and re-interpret the legal requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) hit a new roadblock in federal district court yesterday. Judge Rosemary M. Collyer ruled that advance payments to insurers of cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies for certain lower-income enrollees in Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges were never appropriated by Congress. Oops. She therefore enjoined any further reimbursements until a valid appropriation is in place, but the judge also issued a stay of that injunction pending any appeal by the parties.
The decision in United States House of Representatives v. Sylvia Matthews Burwell, et al. is a big win for House Republicans, other Obamacare opponents, and the rule of law. It also signals at least the outer limits of the Obama administration’s repeated efforts to stretch implementation of the 2010 law far beyond legal norms and the plain meaning of the ACA’s statutory text.
. . .