President Donald J. Trump has been pressuring reluctant Republicans in the House and Senate to send him an Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill that substantially rolls back the worst public health law in decades, one that is single-handedly destroying the private health insurance industry and creating financial havoc for tens of millions of Americans.
So far the GOP-controlled Congress, whose majority Republicans nearly all ran on getting rid of the broken and failing Affordable Care Act, has yet to deliver. A bill has passed the House — the American Health Care Act — but only barely. And last week a leading GOP senator all but declared repeal-and-replace a pipe dream this year (and maybe forever). (RELATED: Cowardly Lawmakers Relying On Bogus CBO Estimates Of People Who Will “Lose Coverage” Under Obamacare Repeal: Is Collapse Of The System Better?)
Some Americans will take their wrath out at the ballot box on wavering members of Congress who pledged to back the president’s effort to sack Obamacare next year. But in the meantime, Trump has been bequeathed, albeit accidentally no doubt, a big weapon he can wield to essentially defang the law, The New York Times reports.
The paper noted that Obama officials were well aware they improperly spent billions of taxpayer dollars providing health insurance subsidies for Americans who were buying coverage through the health care exchanges established by Obamacare. However, they believed they would eventually prevail in a legal challenge to the expenditures filed by House Republicans in 2014 — mostly because they knew they would be out of office by the time a final ruling was handed down, and that an initial ruling against the White House would be tossed out by higher courts.
As a backup, the Obama administration believed that Hillary Clinton would become president and would fix the issue if need be.
However, Clinton didn’t win the Oval Office, Trump did, and “the uncertain status of the cost-sharing payments now looms as the biggest threat to the stability of the insurance exchanges created” under the law, the Times said — meaning a constitutionally questionable decision made by Obama has gifted Team Trump with a powerful tool to utilize against a health care law it has promised to vanquish.
“The administration should not have found an appropriation where none existed,” Nicholas Bagley, a University of Michigan law professor who has studied and written about the issue, told the Times. “The Obama administration argument that the Affordable Care Act included an appropriation for the cost-sharing payments never held water.”
In a ruling last year, U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, a senior judge for the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, agreed with Bagley’s assessment when she said the Obama administration did not possess authority to pay out as much as $130 billion to insurance companies over 10 years to reimburse out-of-pocket expenses for lower-income Americans who bought coverage via the exchanges. In her same ruling, Collyer said the GOP-led House definitely had standing to sue since that chamber has the inherent constitutional power, not the Executive Branch, to authorize (or not) government spending.
Still, many constitutional law experts believed that her ruling would be overturned when the government appealed, which would have meant the suit would be dismissed (and taxpayers would remain on the hook for expenditures that Congress never specifically authorized).
Trump’s victory, however, altered the landscape in a way legal scholars hadn’t considered, since the president-elect had no interest in defending the Executive Branch against the House suit in appeals.
That said, Republicans and the Trump White House are not eager to simply pull the Obama-initiated appeal; doing so would immediately cut off reimbursement payments in the billions of dollars to insurers, which would throw the industry into economic upheaval. Instead, payments are being made on a month-to-month basis while the administration uses them as a bargaining chip of sorts to push an Obamacare repeal measure through. (RELATED: Obamacare collapse continues as major insurer Aetna dumps ALL exchanges, leaving millions without options)
“This law is in the middle of a collapse,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. in an interview with reporters prior to the Memorial Day break. “We need to bring down the cost of coverage, and we need to revitalize the market so that people have real choices and real access to affordable health care.”
Democrats are attempting to saddle Republicans with blame for any subsequent loss of insurance subsidies, but they counter that a) the public knows their party is responsible for all of Obamacare, and b) Trump and Republican ran on repealing the law.
J.D. Heyes is a senior writer for NaturalNews.com and NewsTarget.com, as well as editor of The National Sentinel.
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