Top news from across the health care landscape.
On Thursday, a federal judge ruled under the Affordable Care Act that President Obama exceeded his authority and the administration’s decision to subsidize deductibles, copays, and other cost-sharing measures was unconstitutional. According to The Washington Post, US District Judge Rosemary Collyer sided with the US House of Representatives, who filed a lawsuit challenging more than $175 billion of spending after Congress rejected an administration request for funding in 2014. Obama officials stated that the request had been withdrawn and the money spent, arguing that the subsidies were covered by an earlier and permanent appropriation. Although House Republicans have tried repeatedly to repeal the health care law over the past 5 years, they haven’t had much success, but this ruling could represent one of their most significant victories in trying to dismantle the ACA. “(It’s a) historic win for the Constitution and the American people,” said House Speaker Paul D. Ryan. “(The White House had) overreached by spending taxpayer money without approval from the people’s representatives.” If the administration doesn’t appeal the decision, Congress will be required to pass annual appropriations to cover the subsidies’ cost under the ruling. “This suit represents the first time in our nation’s history that Congress has been permitted to sue the executive branch over a disagreement about how to interpret a statute,” said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
After the federal court ruling yesterday stating that the Obama Administration had been improperly funding the cost-sharing subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, it’s likely that health plans will take a financial hit. Insurers could lose approximately $175 billion to subsidize their Obamacare customers. If the ruling is upheld, insurers will presumably need to still follow the law and charge eligible customers less money, reported Politico. The fallout could result in massive lawsuits from insurers to recoup their costs and prompt a mass exodus from the exchanges. At this time, the ruling is stayed pending appeal, so the impact on health plans will not be immediate.
Today, the White House will announce a new National Microbiome Initiative (NMI) that promotes the integrated study of microbes across different ecosystems, reported USA Today. The NMI is backed by $121 million in federal dollars and $400 million in private funds. The initiative will bring researchers together and they will be joined by organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the University of Michigan, and JDRF.