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Attorneys General Seek Emergency Order to Protect ACA Subsidy

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About 20 state attorneys general asked a federal judge in California on Wednesday to temporarily block the Trump administration from ending payments to insurers through the Affordable Care Act cost-sharing reduction subsidy program.

Less than a week after California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman joined 17 other attorneys general in suing on the merits of the decision, the group requested a restraining order “to prevent immediate and irreparable harm to the plaintiff states and the millions of Americans who benefit from affordable health care coverage under the ACA,” according to the court filing.

(Related: Jeff Sessions Memo, Reversing Obama Stance, Blesses End to ACA Subsidies)

The document, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, asks that the order be entered by 4 p.m. Thursday.

“President Trump’s abrupt move to cut these subsidies is reckless, dangerous—and illegal,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “These payments are vital to thousands of New Yorkers and millions of Americans who rely on them to afford their health care. Yet President Trump is using those families as political pawns, putting their lives at risk to advance his own partisan agenda. We won’t stand for it—and we’re moving to block these dangerous cuts before they do any more harm.”

Added Becerra: “This is no longer about a campaign promise or a punchline … No one deserves to live with this imposed medical uncertainty. The cost-sharing subsidy payments protect Americans from being a paycheck away from bankruptcy.”

The decision to end the payments to insurers, estimated at $7 billion this year, is the biggest blow to the Obama-era health law, which Republicans in Congress have unsuccessfully attempted to repeal over the last several months. The same group of attorneys general in August won a motion to intervene in a 2014 lawsuit filed by House Republicans challenging the legality of insurer subsidies.

The latest court filing argues that the text of the ACA requires the cost-sharing reduction reimbursement payments and that Congress permanently appropriated funds for such use.

“Payment for cost-sharing reductions has even been codified by federal regulation,” the memo in support of the restraining order states. “The ACA’s text leaves no ambiguity regarding the mandatory nature of these payments.”

—-Read Trump Says He Had to Undermine Affordable Care Act to Force Changes on ThinkAdvisor.

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