A decision by a federal judge Wednesday poses a new legal threat to the Affordable Care Act.
U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer ruled that the House has the right to sue the Obama administration over money spent on the healthcare law, according to a report in the New York Times. The ruling is a victory for congressional Republicans who claim the White House overreached its executive powers in funding subsidies for healthcare insurance.
The ruling means the House can pursue its claim that the administration violated the Constitution when it spent public money. In a lawsuit filed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) late last year, he alleged that the administration illegally transferred approximately $175 billion to insurance companies. And while the administration is scheduled to pay that amount over the next decade, the funds have yet to be appropriated by Congress, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.
The House says that Congress never actually approved spending the money, and denied the administration's request to use it. The Obama administration argues that it is using previously allocated money, according to the Associated Press.
"The president's unilateral change to Obamacare was unprecedented and outside the powers granted to his office under our Constitution," Boehner said in a statement after the ruling. "I am grateful to the court for ruling that this historic overreach can be challenged by the coequal branch of government with the sole power to create or change the law."
A final ruling in favor of the House could possibly undermine the ACA and in turn drive up costs for consumers should insurers lose federal assistance, added the Times.
The ruling comes after the Supreme Court upheld the legality of subsidies all 50 states. And according to enrollment statistics released this week, almost 10 million people have signed up for health insurance through the ACA.