Federal judge strikes down Obamacare payments

President Obama has lost the latest round in a high-stakes separation of powers battle with the Republicans.

His most prized achievement — Obamacare — was dealt a bad blow by federal district Judge Rosemary Collyer, a Republican appointee. Today, she ruled that the law does not provide for the funds insurers need to make health insurance policies under the program affordable.

Collyer said that the law provides for tax credits.  However, it does not authorize an appropriation for slashing deductibles and copayments. Without those reductions from insurers, many consumers could not afford to buy insurance.

“Congress authorized reduced cost-sharing but did not appropriate monies for it,” Collyer said in her 38-page ruling. “Congress is the only source for such an appropriation, and no public money can be spent without one.”

Collyer anticipates an appeal from the Obama Administration, as evidenced by her blocking her own decision from taking effect.

Cost-sharing subsidies reduce consumers’ insurance payments — an important feature of the Affordable Care Act, because deductibles are rising. Under the law, subsidies are available to people who earn between 100% and 250% of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, that’s about $24,000 to $61,000.

The Commonwealth Fund estimated up to 7 million people might have plans with cost-sharing reductions this year.


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