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(J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

The House of Representatives today sought a three-month extension in a lawsuit it originally brought against the Obama administration "to give more time for the parties to work together toward a resolution," according to a senior GOP aide. The lawsuit questions the legality of Obamacare payments being made to insurers, but is now technically being brought against the Trump administration.

"The House and Department of Justice filed a motion seeking more time to continue efforts to resolve the lawsuit without the court's assistance," a spokesperson for Speaker Paul Ryan's office told me. If the court agrees with the motion, an appeal of an earlier district court decision will remain on hold and the payments will continue to be made. The earlier ruling sided with the House GOP. If the Trump administration drops the case, the payments to insurers will stop.

The payments, called cost-sharing reduction subsidies, are crucial to insurers' decisions on whether they'll participate in the individual market in 2018. The planning process formally begins in May, and insurers have made it clear they need the payments to continue offering coverage through whatever transition the GOP creates away from Obamacare.

The issue: The lawsuit, brought by House Republicans against then-Department of Health and Human Services secretary Sylvia Burwell, says the payments are being made without the approval of Congress, which is unconstitutional. They were written into Obamacare to reduce out-of-pocket costs for low-income people, and the law clearly states insurers must pass along the subsidies to enrollees, regardless of whether they receive the payments from the federal government.

When Barack Obama left office and President Trump took his place, the suit technically became the GOP suing itself. Aides say the question still needs to be answered by the courts, as it is a matter of constitutional authority.

What to look for: How insurers react. Three months gets us into May, which may be too late for them. The prolonged uncertainty could very well be disastrous for exchange participation.

Go deeper

Chris Cuomo accuser: On-air "hypocrisy" spurred report

Journalist Chris Cuomo. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

A woman who accused fired CNN journalist Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct said Sunday she decided to come forward after learning of his comments about women who made similar accusations about his brother. He denies her allegations.

Why it matters: Her attorney Debra Katz said in a statement that she heard "the hypocrisy" of his on-air words about his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and was "disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women," so "retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN."

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19 — Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Vulnerable Democrats: Less Trump talk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Vulnerable House Democrats are convinced they need to talk less about the man who helped them get elected: President Trump.

Why it matters: Democrats are privately concerned nationalizing the 2022 mid-terms with emotionally-charged issues — from Critical Race Theory to Donald Trump's role in the Jan. 6 insurrection — will hamstring their ability to sell the local benefits of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda.