US House Republicans sue over 'Obamacare'

US House Republicans filed a lawsuit against President Barack Obama's administration today over his signature health care law and unilateral actions they say amount to an abuse of executive authority.

AFP| Last Updated: Nov 22, 2014, 01:03 AM IST
US House Republicans sue over 'Obamacare'

Washington: US House Republicans filed a lawsuit against President Barack Obama's administration today over his signature health care law and unilateral actions they say amount to an abuse of executive authority.

The suit, which Republicans have threatened for months, was filed in US District Court in Washington against the secretaries of the Treasury and the Health and Human Services Department and focuses on the administration's "unconstitutional and unlawful" rewriting of segments of the law commonly referred to as Obamacare.

The legal action addresses president's unilateral move last year to defer the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate, which requires that employers with 50 or more workers offer health coverage to their full-time staff or pay fines, until 2015.

It also challenges what Republicans described as illegally transferring about USD 175 billion to insurance companies under Obamacare over the next 10 years. Congress has not appropriated funds for the program.

While the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reported that the administration will repay the cost-sharing subsidies, the lawsuit charges that the administration is unconstitutionally using funds from a separate Treasury account to pay the insurance companies.

"Time after time, the president has chosen to ignore the will of the American people and re-write federal law on his own without a vote of Congress," House Speaker John Boehner said in announcing the lawsuit.

"The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution, and that is exactly why we are pursuing this course of action."

Republicans framed the lawsuit as a broader challenge to what they see is systematic executive overreach by the president.

"What we're dealing with here is bigger than Obamacare, bigger than an executive action," House Republican Mario Diaz-Balart told CNN.

"It's whether the president of the United States has the power to do whatever he or she wants to do regardless of whether the law allows him or her to do that."

Top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi dismissed the "meritless lawsuit" and said it marks Republican leadership bowing to "impeachment-hungry extremists."