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Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

A handful of health insurance companies have sued the federal government for funds that were promised in an Obamacare program. Add Molina Healthcare to the list.

Molina, whose chief executive told me he couldn't give a "definitive answer" about staying in the Obamacare marketplaces for 2018, filed a lawsuit this week against the feds. The company is demanding payment of the $52 million it is owed under Obamacare's risk corridor program.

Why this matters: A handful of insurers that lost a lot of money on the Obamacare exchanges have sued to try to recoup these risk corridor payments. Now, even the companies that have fared well on the exchanges, like Molina, are fed up and are pressing to get money that was promised to them.

The backstory: The goal of the program was to provide a temporary safety net to insurers who were covering a new, unpredictable population. For the past two years, Republicans limited what the risk corridor program could pay out to insurers, even though the same thing exists in Medicare's prescription drug program. The federal government now cumulatively owes more than $8 billion.

Molina on the lawsuit: "Although we are reluctant to sue our government partners, we have participated in the (Affordable Care Act) marketplaces in good faith, with the understanding that the United States would honor its commitments."

Tim Jost, a health policy expert at Washington and Lee University who has studied Obamacare, agreed Molina and other insurers have a decent case: "They have a fairly persuasive argument. They entered the program and set their rates based on the understanding there was a risk corridor program that was going to take care of them, and Congress pulled the rug out from under them."

On the other hand: Congress could fix this, but Republicans have shown no willingness to pay this money out. These lawsuits will likely come down to the decisions made in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.