The White House and House Republicans are seeking to continue a hold that has been placed on a case that could determine the fate of crucial Obamacare subsidies that President Trump has suggested he’d end, according to the new court filing Monday.
On the one hand, the move means that the White House will not take the opportunity to end them immediately by withdrawing the appeal of a ruling against the subsidies, which the Department of Justice under President Obama had been defending.
On the other hand, the Trump administration could still seek to end them at any time, even if the 90-day delay the White House has requested is granted, which would permit the subsidies to continue, if Trump so chose.
A previous report in Politico last week suggested that Trump was leaning towards ending the subsidies, though White House officials have stressed no final decision had been made. Meanwhile, a GOP source for a Washington Examiner story on the expected filing in the court case spun it as a sign that “the Justice Department is working with House Republicans in good faith” to keep the payments going.
The uncertainty is not doing the insurance industry any favors as they approach the filing deadlines for the 2018 plan year. Insurers are already warning of major premium increases due to the unknowns around the subsidies, known as cost-sharing reduction payments.
The payments subsidize insurers for keeping out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and co-pays down for low-income consumers, as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. House Republicans sued the Obama administration in 2014 claiming the subsidies were illegal because they weren’t explicitly appropriated by Congress. A federal judge agreed last year but let the subsidies continue while the case was appealed by Obama’s Justice Department. The Republicans successfully sought a pause in the proceedings after Trump was elected so that both sides could figure their next steps — a pause that it appears could continue for another 90 days.
More than a dozen states, however, have sought to intervene in the case and lift the hold on it so they can take up the legal defense of the subsidies. The House GOP and the Trump administration said in Monday’s filing it would respond to the states’ effort to intervene separately.