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Health law

Justices seem to favor claims of Obamacare insurers for $ 12 billion

The Supreme Court probably ruled that insurance companies can raise $ 12 billion from the federal government to cover their losses in the early years of the health care law advocated by President Barack Obama.

Several judges indicated their agreement with the insurers' arguments that they are entitled to money under a provision of the "Obamacare" health law that promised companies a financial cushion for losses they could incur by selling coverage to people in the markets created by the Health Law.

The program only lasted three years, but Congress inserted a provision in the expenditure bills of the Department of Health and Human Services from 2015 to 2017 to limit payments under the "risk brokers" program. Both the Obama administration and the Trump administration have argued that the provision means that the government has no obligation to pay.

"Are you saying that insurers would have done the same without promising to pay?" Judge Elena Kagan asked Deputy Attorney General Edwin Kneedler. Kneedler said the health care law created a "vast new market" for clients, most of whom would qualify for subsidies.

"The main point was to encourage companies to go to the market," Kneedler said.

Paul Clement, representing the companies that sold insurance in Alaska, Illinois, Maine, North Carolina, Oregon and Washington, called the government's refusal to pay a "massive bait and change."

Companies cite HHS statistics to affirm that they are owed $ 12 billion.

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