On Thursday, 16 attorneys general filed a motion to intervene in a federal court case that challenges the legality of cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, which health insurers receive from the government to subsidize ACA exchange enrollees' out-of-pocket costs.
The leaders of the case are California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who served in Congress when the law was passed, and Eric Schneiderman of NY. It sounds alarming, but it's true: "lives are at stake", said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, according Reuters reported.
Trump is using the payments as "political bargaining chips", meaning states and their residents can't rely on the administration to represent their position, they said. They took a lead role to successfully block Trump's executive orders restricting travel from some Muslim-majority countries, and they are also resisting efforts to roll back environmental regulations. The Obama administration appealed, but the Trump administration has threatened to drop the appeal. The case, brought originally by House Republicans against the Obama administration, argues that Congress never appropriated funding for CSRs, so the payments are unconstitutional.
The attorney general from Kentucky, a deeply conservative state, is among those Democrats joining the court filing even as the state's Republican governor has pledged to roll back a Medicaid expansion made possible by the PPACA.
The appeals court put the litigation on hold after the November presidential election at the request of the Republican House lawmakers.
"Because of an intervening presidential election, the current parties appear ready to agree to allow the injunction to stand, without giving this Court the opportunity to determine whether the district court had either jurisdiction to enter it or a legal basis to enjoin the permanent appropriation that Congress meant to provide", the motion reads. In February, the same court rejected a similar motion filed by Democratic attorneys general seeking to help defend the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a legal battle that could defang the agency. The House passed a bill, called the American Health Care Act, earlier this month.