The federal government had a clear obligation to reimburse insurers for assistance provided to low-income people under the Affordable Care Act, a federal judge says.
By ROBERT PEAR / The New York Times
A federal court ruled this month that a Montana insurer is entitled to federal compensation for subsidy payments under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that President Donald Trump abruptly ended in October, a ruling that could reverberate through insurance markets and cost the government hundreds of millions of dollars.
At issue are payments for cost-sharing reductions, discounts that enhance the value of health-insurance policies purchased from the ACA’s marketplaces by reducing deductibles, co-payments and other out-of-pocket costs for low-income consumers. Trump ended the payments in October, one of a series of executive actions intended to undo President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.
But Judge Elaine Kaplan of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled this month that Trump’s actions violated a government promise to insurance companies participating in the health law. Although Congress never explicitly provided money for the subsidies, the court said, the government had a legal obligation to pay them.
The decision could have broad ramifications for health insurers. Several similar cases are pending in the Court of Federal Claims, a specialized tribunal that handles a wide range of monetary claims against the government. In April, another judge, Margaret Sweeney, certified a class action that allows insurers as a group to sue the government over Trump’s termination of the cost-sharing payments.