A three-judge federal court panel denied Thursday the request by two Obamacare enrollees to intervene in an ongoing lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act by House Republicans. The enrollees had argued that they should be allowed to take up the defense of subsidies in the law targeted in the lawsuit because there was reason to believe that the Trump administration, once President-elect Donald Trump was inaugurated, would change the federal government’s position in opposing the lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed in 2014, argues that ACA subsidies paid out by the Obama administration using Treasury Department funds are illegal because they were not appropriated by Congress. The payments, known as cost-sharing reduction payments, subsidize insurers for keeping out-of-pockets costs down for low-income consumers, as is mandated by the Affordable Care Act. Health policy experts contend that withdrawing the subsidies would send the individual market into chaos, if not collapse it entirely.
The House Republicans scored a major victory when a federal judge ruled in their favor last May. The case was appealed, but House Republicans successfully sought a pause in the case, until the Trump was administration was in office, so they could discuss settling the case or possibly dropping the appeal. They have until late February to indicate those next steps.