Ryan says key ObamaCare payments will continue during House lawsuit

Ryan says key ObamaCare payments will continue during House lawsuit
© Greg Nash

Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanGOP leaders launch internal review into leak Opinion | Michael Steele: Gianforte better put his ‘big boy’ pants on Washington needs high-level science and technology expertise – now! MORE (R-Wis.) said Thursday that the administration will continue to fund key ObamaCare payments to insurers while a House lawsuit runs its course.

"While the lawsuit is being litigated, then the administration funds these benefits. That’s how they’ve been doing it and I don’t see any change in that," Ryan told reporters. 

House Republicans sued the Obama administration over these "cost-sharing reductions," or CSRs, which reimburse insurers for giving discounted deductibles to low-income ObamaCare enrollees. The GOP argued the payments were being made unconstitutionally, without a congressional appropriation. 

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Insurers are worried the payments could be discontinued, which could throw the market into chaos and cause insurers to pull out of the marketplaces. 

Ryan indicated that the administration will continue funding the payments while the lawsuit runs its course. 

However, Kristine Grow, a spokeswoman for America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), said Thursday that it is not enough for the payments to simply continue during the lawsuit. She said insurers need certainty that the payments will be there throughout 2018, or else they might need to raise premiums for next year to factor in the uncertainty.

She said AHIP would like to see Congress appropriate the money for 2018 or provide some other guarantee that the money will be there throughout next year. 

But Ryan said nothing of an appropriation, instead indicating that the administration would fund the payments on its own.

"We don’t want to drop the lawsuit because we believe in the separation of powers. We believe in Congress retaining its lawmaking power, but this lawsuit hasn’t run its full course," Ryan said. "While the lawsuit is running its course, the administration is exercising their discretion with respect to CSRs."

Grow, though, warned that: "As soon as this lawsuit stops the CSRs no longer have a guarantee."

It is unclear when the lawsuit will reach completion. It is currently on hold as Congress figures out a path on ObamaCare. The next status update from both sides is due in May. 

"We need more certainty they will continue through at least 2018," Grow said of the payments, adding that is the "No. 1 issue for us right now."