- Associated Press - Thursday, May 12, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) - More than six years after becoming law, the Affordable Care Act continues to face legal challenges, including the case decided Thursday by a federal district judge in Washington.

Among the pending lawsuits:


U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled Thursday that the Obama administration is illegally spending billions of dollars to reimburse health insurance companies for offering lowered rates for poor people. Collyer agreed with House Republicans who argued that Congress never specifically appropriated the money - up to $175 billion over 10 years - and indeed denied an administration request for it. The administration has insisted that it is properly relying on an existing pot of money. Collyer put her ruling on hold to allow the administration to appeal.


The federal appeals court in Washington is weighing West Virginia’s appeal in a case in which it says the White House has undertaken a series of illegal changes and delays to the law. The state points to a November 2013 decision by President Barack Obama to allow insurance companies to offer people another year of coverage under their existing plans even if those plans didn’t meet the requirements set out in the health care overhaul. Obama acted in response to mounting frustration over cancellation notices sent to Americans whose health plans didn’t meet the law’s coverage standards. West Virginia officials said they too support allowing people to keep their health plan, but object that Obama took action without seeking congressional action or inviting comment before any changes took effect. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta dismissed the lawsuit in October.


The Supreme Court heard arguments in March in an appeal filed by religiously affiliated colleges, hospitals and other not-for-profit groups. They object to the compromises the administration has put forward to allow women covered under these institutions’ health plans to obtain contraceptives at no extra cost, among other preventive services required by the health care law, while still ensuring that groups that hold religious objections to contraceptives do not have to pay for them. The government says the groups have to fill out a form or send a letter stating their objection, but nonprofits say that still makes them complicit in providing contraceptives. Eight federal appeals courts have sided with the administration, while one has ruled for the faith-based groups. The Supreme Court is expected to decide the issue by late June, although the justices appeared divided during their March arguments and a 4-4 tie that leaves the matter unresolved nationally is a possibility.

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