States seek to advocate for low-cost insurance in lawsuit

19 Mai, 2017, 22:34 | Author: Claudine Rigal
  • People protest Trump administration policies in Los Angeles in January

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (SHNEYE'-dur-muhn) and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (hahv-YEHR' beh-SEH'-rah) Thursday moved to intervene in the appeal of a lawsuit that challenges cost-sharing reduction payments allowed under the Affordable Care Act.

The motion to intervene argues that the states have a concrete interest in continuing the payments to protect low-income residents.

Threats to federal payments could lead to an Obamacare death spiral, in which health insurers abandon insurance marketplaces, including Covered California, sending premiums and other out-of-pocket costs soaring, state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has warned.

"The stakes are very high".

Trump has repeatedly threatened to withhold the payments to insurers, which amount to about $7 billion this year, and referred to them as a "bailout".

The subsidies are at the center of a lawsuit brought by the U.S. House of Representatives against the Obama administration, which the Trump administration must now deal with. With Trump in the White House, Obamacare advocates fear his administration could simply drop the appeal and end the subsidies - especially if efforts to overhaul the law fail in Congress.

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Trump is using the payments as "political bargaining chips", meaning states and their residents can't rely on the administration to represent their position, they said.

The attorney general from Kentucky, a deeply conservative state, is among those Democrats joining the court filing even as the state's Republican governor has pledged to roll back a Medicaid expansion made possible by the PPACA.

In May 2016, a USA judge ruled in favor of the Republicans in the subsidies case, finding that the Obama administration needed explicit congressional approval.

The appeals court put the litigation on hold after the November presidential election at the request of the Republican House lawmakers, Reuters reported.

The motion to intervene may not be granted by the court. In February, the same court rejected a similar motion filed by Democratic attorneys general seeking to help defend the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a legal battle that could defang the agency.

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