U.S. judge to review Trump healthcare
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[October 23, 2017]
By Dan Levine
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A U.S. judge is
set to hear arguments on Monday about whether to block President Donald
Trump's decision to terminate controversial payments to health insurance
companies under Obamacare.
U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco federal court has
said he would quickly issue a ruling following the hearing.
Several U.S. states sued the federal government and asked for an
immediate order halting Trump's move while the case is being litigated.
Trump said earlier this month that his administration would stop paying
billions of dollars in subsidies that help insurers give discounts to
low-income households, one of several moves to dismantle the signature
healthcare law of his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama.
Since then, Trump has alternately supported, and dismissed, an effort by
Republican and Democratic senators that would reinstate the subsidies
for two years until a broader replacement to the 2010 Affordable Care
Act, commonly known as Obamacare, can be negotiated.
Meanwhile, Democratic attorneys general from 18 states and the District
of Columbia asked Chhabria to direct the administration to continue the
payments, saying the government risked destabilizing insurance markets
should the subsidies cease.
While Democrats accused Trump of sabotaging Obamacare, the president
argued that the subsidies made insurance companies "rich."
[to top of second column]
President Donald Trump smiles after signing an Executive Order to
make it easier for Americans to buy bare-bone health insurance plans
and circumvent Obamacare rules at the White House in Washington,
U.S., October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
In a court filing on Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice pointed to a
prior ruling from a Washington, D.C. federal court that said Congress
had never appropriated the money for the subsidies. An appeal of that
ruling is currently on hold.
The Justice Department also argued that insurers could bring their own
lawsuits against the government in a special federal claims court in
Washington. Such lawsuits would be more appropriate than one brought by
U.S. states, DOJ argued.
At a minimum, the Justice Department said Chhabria should transfer the
case to the same Washington court that issued the prior ruling.
Should the case stay in San Francisco, either side could appeal
Chhabria's ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is
weighted with Democratic-appointed judges.
From there, any further appeal would go to the U.S. Supreme Court.
(Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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