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Federal judge rebuffs AGs' suit over Obamacare subsidies

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Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro - (Photo / )

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and other attorneys general have lost an initial battle in their effort to prevent the Trump administration from ending Obamacare subsidies.

Shapiro was one of 19 AGs who sued the government to block Trump's move to end cost-sharing subsidies for insurers under the Affordable Care Act, as Obamacare is formally known.

U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria on Wednesday refused to grant a preliminary injunction requiring the administration to continue payments while the litigation is underway, Reuters reported.

Chhabria, an Obama appointee based in San Francisco, responded that "it appears initially that the Trump administration has the stronger legal argument," Reuters added.

Chhabria questioned the need for an emergency order, writing that states have been preparing for the end of subsidy payments, which have been in contention since 2014, the Los Angeles Times pointed out. In 2016, a federal judge in Washington ruled that the subsidies were unconstitutional because "Congress never provided explicit authority for the spending," the New York Times pointed out.

As a result of such preparations, "the large majority of people who purchase insurance on exchanges throughout the country will either benefit or be unharmed," Chhabria wrote.

"And although you wouldn't know it from reading the states’ papers in this lawsuit, the truth is that most state regulators have devised responses that give millions of lower-income people better health coverage options than they would otherwise have had," Chhabria wrote.

Chhabria's move clears the way for the case to move to trial, the New York Times noted.

There was no immediate response from Shapiro's office. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Wednesday tweeted: "The fight for affordable #healthcare moves fwd! The judge made clear in his ruling that #ACA is law of the land."

Obamacare Order by Roger DuPuis on Scribd

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Roger DuPuis

Roger DuPuis

Roger DuPuis covers Cumberland County, health care, transportation, distribution, energy and environment. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at rdupuis@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @rogerdupuis2.

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