DOJ Appeals Ruling Allowing House GOP To Continue ACA Lawsuit
On Monday, the Obama administration appealed a U.S. District Court decision that allows the House to continue a lawsuit challenging the administration's power to make changes to the Affordable Care Act, Roll Call reports (Ruger, Roll Call, 9/21).
The suit, authorized by House lawmakers in July 2014, contends that Congress never authorized the Department of Treasury's payments to insurers for cost-sharing reductions to help low-income consumers pay for out-of-pocket costs such as coinsurance, copayments and deductibles.
The administration had asked the court to dismiss the suit.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled that the House has legal standing to file suit against the administration and pursue claims that the administration's actions violated the Constitution. She wrote in the decision, "Congres[s'] power of the purse is the ultimate check on the otherwise unbounded power of the executive." She added that Congress has a constitutional interest in protecting its role in authorizing how public money is spent.
In addition, Collyer rejected the administration's argument that the court should not be involved in a political conflict between the executive and legislative branches of government. She wrote in the decision, "The mere fact that the House of Representatives is the plaintiff does not turn this suit into a non-justiciable political dispute." She added, "Despite its potential political ramifications, this suit remains a plain dispute over a constitutional command, of which the Judiciary has long been the ultimate interpreter."
Further, Collyer said the decision should not be viewed as a pathway for future Congresses to sue future presidents. She wrote that the decision should not "open" any "floodgates" for such lawsuits because her ruling is based on "the extraordinary facts" of this particular case.
While the case likely would not greatly affect the ACA, some consumers' out-of-pocket spending could increase sharply if the cost-sharing subsidies are invalidated (California Healthline, 9/10).
The Department of Justice in court documents filed Monday called Collyer's decision "a momentous step" that "would invite litigation over numerous other disputes between the political branches." DOJ noted in the filing that Collyer's decision allowed a chamber of Congress to sue the executive branch "[f]or the first time in [U.S.] history."
The administration has requested that the lawsuit be placed on hold while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reviews the issue of standing (Roll Call, 9/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.