Republicans delay decision on Obamacare payments

Republicans and the Trump administration jointly requested a 90-day extension.

— -- House Republicans and the Trump administration, seeking to end payments on Obamacare subsidies, have requested a 90-day extension on the cost-sharing reductions, a move decried by some Democrats.

In the lawsuit House v. Price (previously known as House v. Burwell), Republicans argue that the Obama administration was not authorized to make the payments, which total $175 billion over 10 years.

The court previously ruled that payments would continue as congressional Republicans and the new Trump administration worked toward a resolution.

Skeptics are concerned that ending the payments to insurance companies would lead to higher premiums for low-income Americans.

“We continue to work with the Trump administration on a solution,” AshLee Strong, press secretary to House Speaker Paul Ryan, said Monday, confirming the filing.

The House of Representatives, at the prompting of its Republican majority, initially filed suit on Nov. 21, 2014.

The case is currently waiting in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The parties are expected to file a status report every 90 days. Since the American Health Care Act, the GOP bill to replace Obamacare, is currently making its way through the legislative process, the joint motion requests another 90-day extension.

“By order dated March 2, 2017, this Court granted the parties’ joint motion to continue the abeyance of this appeal and to file a status report by May 22, 2017, and at 90-day intervals thereafter,” the filing reads. “The parties respectfully request that the abeyance be continued as contemplated by the March 2 order. The parties continue to discuss measures that would obviate the need for judicial determination of this appeal, including potential legislative action.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi complained the delay exacerbates “uncertainty in the health coverage of millions of Americans.”

“At a critical period when insurers are deciding premiums for next year, Republicans are pouring uncertainty into the health insurance marketplaces,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “If Republicans allow their cynical lawsuit to cut off the Cost Sharing Reduction payments, they will be directly responsible for increasing premium costs for consumers by 19 percent, causing some insurers to withdraw from rural counties, and increasing costs for taxpayers by billions of dollars.”

On Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office is expected to release its revised score of the American Health Care Act, which narrowly passed through the lower chamber on May 4.

If the CBO’s analysis of the legislation identifies sufficient savings to survive procedural roadblocks, House Speaker Ryan is expected to sign the bill and send it to the Senate, where it may be rewritten by senators over several months.