Minnesota, other states sue federal government over health care subsidies

- Minnesota joined a number of other states on Friday suing the federal government over the decision to end health insurance subsidies.

President Donald Trump announced Thursday night he is ending subsidy payments to health insurance companies – a key part of the Affordable Care Act.

The White House says that Congress hasn't appropriated the money, therefore they won't pay. But, the lawsuit by Minnesota and other states says that still violates federal law.

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson say the effect in Minnesota is smaller than other states; just under 11,000 Minnesotans get subsidized health insurance through MNsure since the majority of low income workers use MinnesotaCare.

But, that doesn't diminish her legal interpretation of Trump’s decision.

“The legal theory here, the legal argument, is they're violating federal law by not making payments that are statutorily required,” Swanson said. “You can't just end statutory payments, especially after you've been making them for so long.”

But the White House argues their own legal interpretation, basically finding a loophole.

In a statement, the White House said, "there is no appropriation for cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies under Obamacare. In light of this analysis, the government cannot lawfully make the cost-sharing payments."

In the wake of failed attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Democratic leaders see this latest move as a new approach to getting rid of Obamacare.

“This is so damaging to people,” Al Franken said. “This is going to drive up the costs of health care and this is actually going to drive up our deficit. It's amazingly destructive thing to do and it all seems to be motivated by one thing, which is undermining the Affordable Care Act.”

The next cost-sharing payments to insurance companies were supposed to be next Wednesday, meaning the insurance companies won't get paid and ultimately will be forced to raise rates for people who can't afford to pay them.

The multistate lawsuit is asking for an injunction to stop the White House order and resume payments until it's worked out in the courts. 

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