Collyer’s ruling could change the exchange game
Health policy experts didn’t know U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer’s name before last year. Now they do.
The healthcare industry is nervously awaiting the judge’s ruling in U.S. House of Representatives v. Burwell, which many see as the most significant legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law’s premium subsidies in King v. Burwell last year.
The case was filed by House Republican leaders, who claim the Obama administration is illegally spending $175 billion over 10 years that Congress never appropriated to reduce out-of-pocket costs for millions of lower-income exchange-plan enrollees. The ACA requires the government to pay insurers for those costsharing reductions. If the plaintiffs prevail, experts say it’s possible insurers could be forced to significantly raise premiums to offset the loss of the federal payments.
Collyer, who was nominated by President George W. Bush, surprised many legal observers with her decision in September to grant the plaintiffs legal standing and let the lawsuit proceed, despite Supreme Court precedent maintaining that members of Congress generally lack standing to sue the executive branch.
During oral arguments on standing, she brushed aside the Obama administration attorney’s effort to limit discussion to the standing issue. “So it is your position that if the House of Representatives and the Senate both affirmatively voted down a proposal to fund something … that vote could be ignored by the administration because, after all, no one can sue them?” she asked him.
Collyer may rule in the spring. If she decides for the plaintiffs, insurers may get “very nervous as they start thinking about whether to participate in the marketplace for 2017 or what their rates are going to be,” said Tim Jost, an emeritus law professor at Washington and Lee University who joined an amicus brief backing the administration in the case.
Position U.S. District Court judge for the District of Columbia
Tenure in job
Nominated in 2002
Previous position Partner at Crowell & Moring Rosemary Collyer