'Huge' Win for House GOP in ObamaCare Lawsuit

Federal judge says administration spending on health care subsidies is unconstitutional
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2016 1:55 PM CDT
'Huge' Win for House GOP in ObamaCare Lawsuit
In this Oct. 6, 2015, file photo, the HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

In what Politico labels a "huge win" for the House GOP, a federal judge ruled Thursday that the Obama administration is making unconstitutional federal expenditures to maintain the president's ObamaCare law, the AP reports. At issue: $175 billion in so-called "cost-sharing" reimbursements that the government doles out to insurers to help defray out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and co-pays for low-income people. Although Congress did give the OK to the program, it never technically appropriated the funds for it. "Congress is the only source for such an appropriation, and no public money can be spent without one," US District Judge Rosemary Collyer, who the Hill notes was appointed by George W. Bush, wrote in her decision. The Obama administration had argued that such an appropriation was already covered under funds appropriated in the tax credit section of the law, but Collyer disagreed, saying a separate appropriation had to be set up for the subsidies and that it couldn't simply be "inferred."

John Boehner's former aide, Kevin Smith, gave a shoutout to his ex-boss on Twitter over the ruling, tweeting, "Another victory for @SpeakerBoehner. Suit would never have gone forward were it not for him." Boehner tweeted his own congrats "for the American people," calling it a "victory … for House Republicans, who have stood firm for the rule of law." White House press secretary Josh Earnest had a different take. "This is not the first time that we've seen opponents of the Affordable Care Act go through the motions to try to win this political fight in the court system," he tells the Hill. "They've been losing this fight for six years, and they'll lose it again." The administration is expected to appeal Collyer's decision, though she noted that reimbursements could continue pending that appeal. (The US' biggest health-care insurer is scaling back its participation in ObamaCare.)

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