A hearing was held on Monday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on a request for a second 90-day delay related to $7 billion in Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance subsidies. The request creates further uncertainties as the health care insurance market place remains in limbo. The litigation, House v. Price, seeks reimbursement from ACA cost-sharing programs to fund health insurance subsidies for low-income individuals. House Republicans filed the original lawsuit during the Obama administration. President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers want to repeal and replace the law and are working on overhaul legislation that would also secure the subsidy funding during a transition period. But it is not clear if or when they will pass the bill.

In addition, last week the attorneys general from 15 states and the District of Columbia filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit asserting the loss of funding would harm state residents and the state themselves. If the delay is approved, the parties will continue to discuss measures to preclude the need for judicial determination. The request for the delay indicates that the government will continue to provide the cost sharing reducing at least through much of the summer. The Court of Appeals has not ruled on the request to delay at this time. There are a few different steps the parties could take, none these option would help to stabilize insurance markets:

  • The parties could ask to continue to request to delay and the court could grant it. Insurers would then face another 90 days of questioning whether the payments would be made.
  • The Trump administration could drop the appeal, letting the lower court ruling on the payments’ unconstitutionality stand. Insurers would then stop receiving the subsidies.
  • The Trump administration could continue to appeal, though insurers might still not get a final answer since the appeals court could side with the House.