Republicans’ Suit Against Obamacare Insurer Reimbursements Advances

By | September 9, 2015

Congressional Republicans were allowed by a judge to pursue their lawsuit accusing the Obama administration of violating the Constitution by spending money on the president’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act.

A federal judge in Washington on Wednesday declined to dismiss the lawsuit filed last year by the lawmakers, saying their claims were sufficient to allow at least some of their case to go forward.

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, who led the legislators’ arguments before U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer in May, posted a blog statement hailing her ruling as a victory for “the country as a whole.”

The lawsuit, which challenged the administration’s reimbursements to insurance companies under the program known as Obamacare, was initiated on a party-line vote by members of the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives and filed in November. The legislators claim the disbursements will total $175 billion over a decade and weren’t approved by Congress.

Collyer’s decision is only the most recent ruling to deal with aspects of the president’s health care initiative, which has been under continual legal challenge since he signed the enabling legislation in March 2010.

Tax Credits

The U.S. Supreme Court, which in 2012 upheld the law as a constitutional exercise of Congress’ power to levy taxes, in June rejected a challenge to U.S. Internal Revenue Service regulations enabling millions of Americans to obtain tax credits for purchasing the required insurance coverage.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday cheered Collyer’s ruling. In a statement, the California congressman said the decision was “good news for our system of government and puts us one step closer to reestablishing a proper separation of powers.”

Attorneys for the administration contended that the lawmakers were making a political argument and that the dispute didn’t belong in court.

Collyer concluded that lawmakers had the right under the Constitution to sue Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Health and Human Services chief Sylvia Mathews Burwell. She said that was the only issue before her.

“The merits of this lawsuit await another day,” Collyer said.

The White House decried her decision as “unprecedented” and said it would appeal.

“The law is clear that Congress cannot try to settle garden-variety disputes with the executive branch in the courts,” Jen Friedman, a spokeswoman for the administration, said in a statement. “This case is just another partisan attack — this one paid for by the taxpayers — and we believe the courts will ultimately dismiss it.”

The case is U.S. House of Representatives v. Burwell, 14- cv-1967, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

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