The House Republicans recently filed a lawsuit against the presidential administration, challenging certain portions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s lawfulness. The lawsuit specifically challenges “subsidies for lower-income individuals and Obama’s postponement of the employer mandate,” according to Mike Nesper, writing for the Employee Benefit Adviser’s website.
The lawsuit challenges the White House in two ways, writes Taylor Wofford for Newsweek.com. “House Republicans cite two ways in which the Obama administration allegedly oversteps its constitutional authority: First, they claim the administration uses tax dollars to provide ’offset payments’ to insurers that participate in the ACA in order to help such insurers provide lower deductibles and co-pays to those who purchase benefits through the program,” Wofford writes, and Congress hasn’t appropriated any money to make those payments. The suit also claims that by postponing the employer mandate, it changed the law after it passed without having the authority to do so, he reports.
What does it mean for the ACA?
In the short-term, not a lot, Nesper reports, as the Supreme Court isn’t expected to rule on subsidies until June. “The high court agreed Nov. 7 to hear an appeal by four Virginians who are attempting to block those tax credits in 36 states,” Nesper writes. Nesper quotes Alden Bianchi, practice group leader of Mintz Levin’s employee benefits and executive compensation practice, who calls the lawsuit ”political,” and speculates that it’s a way to keep the issue of the PPACA alive as a campaign issue. “There is no substance here,” Bianchi told Nesper.
But long-term effects could extend beyond health care because the Supreme Court will rule on “what authority the President of the United States has in changing or amending laws (and on) the role of Congress,” Nesper writes. Steve Morelli writes for InsuranceNewsNet.com that he sees it as “another Republican effort to chip away at the foundation of the law.”
Ashley Parker reports in The New York Times that if the lawsuit succeeded, it could dramatically affect the insurance industry. “Poor people would not lose their health care because the insurance companies would still be required to provide coverage — but without the help of the government subsidy, the companies might be forced to raise costs elsewhere,” Parker reports.
And, the lawsuit isn’t the only thing that could change the PPACA, Nesper writes. “Republicans will (soon) control both houses of Congress and top broker organizations expect another vote to repeal the ACA, however, they say, it’s more of a symbolic gesture than anything else,” he writes.