ObamaCare enrollees file motion to protect federal payments

ObamaCare enrollees file motion to protect federal payments
© Getty Images

A group of ObamaCare enrollees on Tuesday filed a motion in federal court seeking to protect payments under the health law that Republicans say are illegal. 

The ObamaCare enrollees filed a motion in the case, known as House v. Burwell, seeking to become parties to the case and be represented to defend the legality of the ObamaCare payments, known as “cost-sharing reductions.”

The consumers argue that they should be allowed to become parties to the case because once the President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign: Trump and former vice president will have phone call about coronavirus Esper: Military personnel could help treat coronavirus patients 'if push comes to shove' Schumer calls for military official to act as medical equipment czar MORE enters office, the interests of ObamaCare defenders will no longer be represented. The enrollees, and Democrats more broadly, worry that the Trump administration could simply drop the Obama administration’s defense of the payments and immediately cancel them. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Insurers and many healthcare experts warn that such a move would cause chaos in the insurance markets by leading many insurers to pull out of ObamaCare, which would take away some people’s coverage.

House Republicans, who sued the Obama administration over the cost-sharing payments, argue they are being made unconstitutionally because Congress never appropriated the money for them. 

The payments reimburse health insurers for giving discounts to low-income ObamaCare enrollees on their deductibles and co-pays.  

“The consequences for my clients and millions of other low-income Americans who receive their health coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act will be devastating if the Trump administration and the House agree to a court injunction barring the government from paying cost-sharing reductions,” said Andrew Pincus, a partner at Mayer Brown LLP who is representing the consumers. 

The case, which is in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, is currently on hold during the presidential transition.

How to handle this case is one of the major decisions facing the Trump administration when it comes to ObamaCare. On one hand, there are warnings about insurers pulling out of the market and people losing coverage if the payments are canceled, and on the other hand, Republican lawmakers who argue the payments are illegal.  

The incoming Trump team has not said what it will do. 

The consumers filing a motion on Tuesday warn that House Republicans and the Trump administration could also enter a settlement allowing the payments to be canceled at a future date. 

The consumers argue that canceling the payments would jeopardize their health coverage if insurers pulled out of the market, or force them to pay higher costs for healthcare.