Healthcare

House GOP files brief in ObamaCare case

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House Republicans are wading into the heated legal battle between the White House and several insurers that claim they are owed money under ObamaCare.

The House GOP announced Friday it has filed a brief in a major ObamaCare lawsuit that involves a multibillion-dollar shortfall in a fund intended to cushion health insurers from financial losses under the law.

The $5 billion class-action lawsuit was filed by the now-shuttered insurance company called Health Republic of Oregon. It is one of about a dozen companies that have sued over the still-delayed payments, which they say crippled their businesses.

The insurer fund, known as the “risk corridors” program, was short about $2 billion in its first year after GOP leaders in 2014 restricted how the Obama administration could make the payments.

Republicans have feared that the administration would seek to make those payments with money outside of Congress’s control —specifically, a fund in the Treasury Department used to settle legal cases. Officials overseeing ObamaCare released a memo this summer indicating they were willing to settle with insurers, fueling an uproar within the GOP in which lawmakers pushed for legal action by the House.

“The House strongly disagrees with this scheme to subvert Congressional intent by engineering a massive giveaway of taxpayer money,” House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) office wrote in a statement announcing the briefs on Friday.

Lawyers for the White House have tried to dismiss the cases, delivering increasingly robust arguments that the administration doesn’t actually owe the money.

In a filing earlier this month in a related case, the Department of Justice (DOJ) specifically said insurers weren’t owed money because of the move by Congress.

The GOP’s document, which is 11 pages, specifically cites that Justice Department argument, which had not been raised by the administration in the Oregon case.

“Because DOJ declined to raise those arguments here, the House’s amicus curiae brief will aid the Court in its swift resolution of this case by introducing these meritorious legal arguments,” the GOP’s brief states.

House Republicans have been planning for weeks how to block the Obama administration from paying insurance companies outside of their control.

In addition to legal action, GOP lawmakers said they were considering legislation, including a possible provision in the year-end spending bill, to prevent the administration from using the Treasury Department fund.

One Republican, Rep. Chris Stewart (Utah), began circulating a letter among his colleagues last week urging Ryan to sue the Obama administration to prevent the settlements.  

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