A D.C. think tank is suing the Obama administration for stalling on the release of what should be public documents about the legality of Obamacare subsidies in the federal health exchange.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a think tank that’s coordinating several lawsuits charging that the Affordable Care Act restricts premium tax credits to state-run exchanges alone, filed several public records requests with the Department of Health and Human Services over three months ago, but the administration still hasn’t gotten around to giving them an answer.
While federal agencies are required by law to respond to Freedom of Information requests within 20 business days, HHS still hasn’t given CEI an answer. They were owed a response by early October.
“The agency has done nothing more than to assign tracking numbers to two of the requests and claim ‘unusual and exceptional circumstances,'” CEI staff wrote in a blog post.
The think tank is looking for the Obamacare agency’s documents and emails that could shed light on the administration’s understanding of whether the law restricts subsidies to state that built their own exchanges — especially in relation to infamous Obamacare adviser Jonathan Gruber. (RELATED: Obamacare Architect’s ‘Speak-O’s’ Could End Up Having Legal Consequences)
While the MIT professor may be best known for calling the American voters stupid, several recordings surfaced over the summer of Gruber making the case that the law restricts subsidies to state exchanges to prod states into building their own exchanges instead of leaving the work to the federal government. Gruber has since changed his tune and said he misspoke on multiple occasions.
The administration’s original opinion on what the law said is more pertinent than ever, as the Supreme Court will hear a case next year, King v. Burwell, about the legality of subsidies on HealthCare.gov.
CEI, which is coordinating and funding the plaintiffs in the case, released a report with a detailed timeline, arguing that HHS didn’t expect to offer subsidies on HealthCare.gov. (RELATED: Report: HHS Waffled On Federal Obamacare Subsidies Question)
If they lose their case, customers in the 37 states that use HealthCare.gov will no longer be eligible for subsidies and the real price of health insurance on the exchanges could prompt many to drop coverage altogether. Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman projects that customers will lose $65 billion in subsidy payments by 2016. (RELATED: Dems: Supreme Court’s Latest Obamacare Case Could Cut Premium Subsidies By $65 Billion)