A federal judge on Thursday ruled that the Obama administration does not have the authority to reimburse health insurers under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known generically as Obamacare, without the approval of Congress, according to the Washington Post.
In the past, administration critics have accused the president of ignoring the Constitution, and now Federal Judge Rosemary Collyer’s ruling could reinforce that notion. Her 38-page ruling referred to language in the Appropriations Clause that says, “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law,” as noted by the Los Angeles Times.
Because of that, the judge explained that providing reimbursements without an appropriation from Congress does not pass constitutional muster. The case involved two sections of the ACA, one that provides tax credits to make insurance premiums more affordable, and the other aimed at reducing “deductibles, co-pays, and other means of ‘cost sharing’ by insurers,” the ruling noted. The opinion may be read here, and out of all the news stories, only the Washington Post appears to have provided a link.
However, virtually all published reports have mentioned that Judge Collyer was appointed to the bench by former President George W. Bush. Her opinion is being portrayed as a victory for House Republicans.
Obamacare has been the subject of criticism ever since it was passed. Complaints about cancelled insurance policies, higher premium costs, company layoffs and reduced working hours have all been part of the fabric of this controversy.
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According to The Hill, the judge’s ruling does not immediately take effect. There will likely be an appeal, but House Speaker Paul Ryan declared that it is “an historic win for the Constitution and the American people.”
“The court ruled that the administration overreached by spending taxpayer money without approval from the people’s representatives,” Ryan said in a statement quoted by The Hill.
However, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest predicted that the ruling will be overturned on appeal.