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The U.S. Court of Claims on Thursday ruled the U.S. government owes Moda Health, an Oregon health insurer, $214 million in unpaid Obamacare "risk corridor" money, The Oregonion reports. The ruling — which focuses on money to help insurers with expensive patients — could have significant consequences for pending cases brought by other insurers across the nation.

Although the risk corridor payments were part of the original health care law, Congress later passed legislation requiring the program to be budget-neutral, meaning it wouldn't have any net cost to the government. When insurers overall underestimated the cost of their enrollees, this meant plans altogether lost billions of dollars.

Thursday's ruling says despite the budget-neutral provision, insurers are still owed the money by law. "The Court finds that the Government made a promise in the risk corridors program that it has yet to fulfill," wrote Judge Thomas Wheeler. "To say to [Moda], 'The joke is on you. You shouldn't have trusted us,' is hardly worthy of our great government."

Why this matters: More than a dozen other lawsuits have been filed by insurers claiming they're owed the money. However, this is the first victory for a plan and follows an earlier defeat in a different case, Washington and Lee law professor emeritus Tim Jost tells me. Not only could this encourage other insurers to file lawsuits, but it also means judges have ruled differently on the issue. This will likely have to be resolved in a federal appeals court.

Go deeper

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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

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  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.

11 hours ago - Health

CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.