The House of Representatives filed a long-awaited lawsuit Friday alleging that the Obama administration ignored key aspects of its health care reform law when implementing the sweeping new government program.
The litigation, authorized by the House in July, addresses only the Affordable Care Act and makes no mention of immigration. However, the filing of the suit the morning after Obama unveiled his major executive actions on immigration was clearly intended to underscore GOP lawmakers’ desire to paint the president as a chief executive intent on overstepping his legal bounds.
“Time after time, the president has chosen to ignore the will of the American people and re-write federal law on his own without a vote of Congress. That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. “If this president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well. The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution, and that is exactly why we are pursuing this course of action.”
President Barack Obama is not named as a defendant; the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, names as defendants Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and their departments.
The White House did not immediately respond for comment.
The lawsuit claims that two specific aspects of implementation of the Obamacare law violated the terms of the law.
First, the suit complains about repeated delays of the employer mandate, which was supposed to kick in in January of this year. The administration delayed the requirement until next year for some employers and until 2016 for others.
Second, the litigation challenges payments to insurance companies under a cost-sharing provisions that the suit argues was never authorized by law. Such “offset” payments amounted to $3 billion in 2014 and could total $175 billion over 10 years, the House claims.
“The administration is instead unlawfully and unconstitutionally using funds from a separate Treasury Department account – authorized for other purposes – to pay insurance companies and thereby unilaterally altering the structure of the health care law,” Boehner’s office said.
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Josh Gerstein and Lauren French