- The Washington Times - Monday, October 31, 2016

Nearly a dozen House Democratic leaders who fought to pass President Obama’s health care law in 2010 asked an appeals court Monday to toss a GOP lawsuit that accuses the administration of unlawfully reimbursing insurers under the program.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, her top lieutenants and committee chairman said the Affordable Care Act allowed the Treasury to fund its cost-sharing program, which is designed to pay back insurers who must help poorer enrollees with out-of-pocket costs, through the same mechanism that pays out Obamacare’s better-known premium subsidies.

They also said a federal judge erred in allowing the GOP to sue the executive branch in the first place.

Political fights should be settled on Capitol Hill, they argued, and not from the bench.

“Indeed, if courts routinely recognized standing in cases like this one, it would encourage party leadership in one house of Congress, or, more precisely, factions within dominant parties, to bring lawsuits over a virtually limitless number of partisan disputes heretofore resolved through legislative-executive processes,” they wrote in a brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Millions of Obamacare customers with incomes between 100 percent and 250 percent of poverty rely on Obamacare’s cost-sharing payments, and health plans are required to reduce their out-of-pocket costs whether they’re reimbursed or not.

Republicans who loathe Obamacare say the law may have authorized the payments, but it didn’t mandate Congress to fund the program.

The Treasury Department itself determined in 2012 that it needed to ask Congress for the money —but then rescinded that decision, withdrew its budget request and drafted a new memo saying it no longer needed lawmakers’ blessing. It began to make the payments.

Republicans who’d zeroed out funding for the program sued and won at the district-court level, though the judge allowed the cost-sharing payments to continue during the administration’s appeal.

In its brief last week, Justice Department attorneys say the law set up an interlocking system that allowed the Treasury to permanently fund the program alongside subsides that knock down premiums for customers on the law’s web-based exchanges.

Democrats backed that view in Monday’s brief to the court, saying the law directed agencies to determine an Obamacare enrollees’ income for a “unified payment” of potential subsidies or cost-sharing payments.

“In short, the law reflects what everyone understood at the time: the premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions are both integrally connected and critical to the law’s effective operation,” Mrs. Pelosi and her troops wrote. “Congress thus structured these complementary measures as a package and provided that they would both be funded out of the same permanent appropriation.”

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