Illinois seeks to join Obamacare lawsuit, save payments to insurers
Illinois is one of 16 states trying to join a federal lawsuit in hopes of preserving part of the Affordable Care Act.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, along with other states' attorneys general, filed a motion Thursday to intervene in the lawsuit which centers on the law's cost-sharing reduction payments — money insurance companies get from the federal government to help offset the expense of reducing deductible and copayment costs for lower-income members.
The states want to see the government continue to pay that money to insurers. If the government doesn't preserve the payments, more insurers likely will stop offering insurance plans on the Obamacare exchanges and/or raise rates for consumers, the states wrote in their motion.
"The number of uninsured Americans would go back up, hurting vulnerable individuals and directly burdening the States," the motion states.
House Republicans filed the lawsuit against the Obama administration in 2014, arguing that cost-sharing reduction payments were unconstitutional because Congress never appropriated money for the payments. A federal court ruled in House Republicans' favor last year, and the administration appealed.
But President Donald Trump could drop the administration's appeal and stop the payments. It's not yet clear what Trump will do.
"The States and their residents cannot continue to rely on the Executive Branch to represent them in this appeal," the states wrote in their motion.
Jill Wolowitz, vice president of government and community relations for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, told the Tribune late last month that an end to cost-sharing reduction payments, along with other factors, could "raise premiums a significant amount."
Insurers have until June 21 to file proposed rates if they plan to continue offering insurance plans on the Illinois exchange next year.