Group challenging ObamaCare subsidies files new lawsuit

The conservative advocacy group challenging the validity of billions of dollars in ObamaCare subsidies is suing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for failing to respond to public records requests connected to the case. 

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) announced its suit on Thursday, claiming that HHS is "stonewalling" on three Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that probe the development of the federal exchange and its ability to offer tax credits. 

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The three requests were filed in the first two weeks of September. One, sent Sept. 8, asks for all communications between HHS and Jonathan Gruber, the consultant now infamous for commenting that the "stupidity" of U.S. voters helped the Affordable Care Act become law. 

"Our document requests go to the heart of an important question: What did HHS think of Obamacare subsidies, and when did it think it?" said CEI general counsel Sam Kazman in a statement. "Given the current debate over this issue, HHS has no business stonewalling our request." 

In a statement to The Hill Thursday evening, HHS spokeswoman Meaghan Smith said, "The Department responded to the Competitive Enterprise Institute within three days, asking for more information to process its request. CEI did not reply."

The lawsuit comes about six weeks after the Supreme Court agreed to consider whether the Affordable Care Act allows exchanges run by HHS to distribute subsidies for health insurance. 

That case — King v. Burwell — could pose a major threat to the healthcare law if the justices decide for the plaintiffs. The CEI is funding both that challenge and its D.C. Circuit counterpart, Halbig v. Burwell

Read the three FOIA requests herehere and here.

This post was updated at 8:40 p.m.