Back in May, the forces of Constitutionalism won a major victory when they stumbled upon a federal judge who had actually heard of the Constitution. At issue was Obama’s decision that once money was appropriated it could use that money as it damned well pleased.
A federal judge on Thursday ruled the Obama administration has been improperly funding an Obamacare subsidy program, a huge win for the House of Representatives in a lawsuit against the White House.
Congress authorized the program but never actually provided the money for it, wrote U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer. The program will be allowed to continue, pending appeal.
“Congress is the only source for such an appropriation, and no public money can be spent without one,” wrote Collyer, a George W. Bush appointee.
The ruling, if it stands, could be a significant financial setback for the millions of low-income Americans who benefit from the cost-sharing subsidies, which help people pay for out-of-pocket costs like co-pays at a doctor’s office. It would not be a fatal blow to the future of the president’s signature domestic policy achievement, but it could push insurance costs higher.
The administration appealed but now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has put the case on hold. Essentially they said that they want to wait and see what the real president says rather than listen to the guy with 30 days left.
A federal appeals judge said House Republicans’ lawsuit challenging Affordable Care Act subsidies would be placed on hold until Feb. 21, 2017, a move that will give the Trump administration time to decide its next steps.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued the order Monday afternoon. A federal judge in May ruled in favor of House Republicans, who argued the subsidies that help many Obamacare customers afford health insurance were unconstitutional because the subsidies were not specifically funded. While the Obama administration has appealed the ruling, Republicans asked last month that a court pause the lawsuit.
Republicans asked for the delay last month after winning control of the White House and both chambers of Congress. How the incoming Trump administration and the GOP-controlled Congress decide to handle the cost-sharing payments could have major implications for the marketplace created under the ACA.
This is a critical gut check for the incoming Trump administration. The use of a slush fund to pay insurers is the only way Obamacare can survive. The Trump Administration will either have to make good on its plan to begin unraveling Obamacare or it will have to oppose House Republicans in this lawsuit.