House Republicans and the Obama administration are now sure to spend the coming months locked in yet another legal battle over the Affordable Care Act.
In a move that surprised some legal experts, U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer in Washington, D.C., decided last week that House Republicans have standing to sue over their allegation that the administration is illegally spending money that Congress never appropriated for the law's cost-sharing provisions. Those provisions include reduced deductibles, copays and coinsurance for many beneficiaries based on income.
The boost granted to this latest legal attack on the ACA means more uncertainty for the healthcare industry just months after the U.S. Supreme Court resolved King v. Burwell, a case many feared would throw the insurance market into disarray if the White House lost (the court ruled 6-3 in its favor). But experts disagree on the gravity of the threat from the House lawsuit. Some believe a ruling against the administration could similarly undermine insurance markets, but others say the possible impact is less significant.
“What you have is a fight over appropriations that could throw sand into the gears of the ACA,” said Nicholas Bagley, an assistant law professor at the University of Michigan. “Unlike King, this isn't a case that threatens the ACA going forward.”