Health Reform WK-EDGE Affirmed: no barrier to prevent congressional participation in small business exchange
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Monday, December 18, 2017

Affirmed: no barrier to prevent congressional participation in small business exchange

By Victoria Moran, J.D., M.H.A.

A municipal taxpayer does not have sufficient standing to challenge the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority’s use of municipal funds by congressional members, employees, and dependents to purchase health insurance on the small business exchange. The D.C. Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s dismissal (Vining v. Executive Board of D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority, December 7, 2017, Glickman, S.).

Background. In 2014, a D.C. taxpayer filed suit against the Exchange Authority, an independent agency created by the Council of D.C. to establish exchange, alleging that it allowed at least 12,359 congressional employees and dependents to buy health insurance on the D.C. Small Business Health Option Program (SHOP Exchange) despite provisions restricting participation to employers with 50 or fewer employees. The taxpayer also alleged the SHOP Exchange was improperly funded using taxpayer funds. The Superior Court dismissed due to lack of standing.

Appeal. The appeals court affirmed, holding that a municipal taxpayer does not suffer direct harm from an expenditure if it is not funded by his taxes. Therefore, a municipal taxpayer does not have standing to sue if his tax dollars do not contribute to the expenditures at issue.

The taxpayer also argued that the Superior Court erred in determining whether the Exchange Authority operations used taxpayer funds prior to discovery, and that if the Exchange Authority ever had a shortage of funds it would need to use municipal taxpayer funds to administer the SHOP Exchange. The court of appeals determined that the possibility of a funding shortfall was speculative and did not meet the requirements for standing.

The case is No. 15-CV-242.

Attorneys: Michael Bekesha (Judicial Watch, Inc.) for Kirby Vining. Jason Lederstein, Office of the Attorney General, for Executive Board of the District of Columbia Health Benefit Exchange Authority.

Companies: Executive Board of the District of Columbia Health Benefit Exchange Authority

Cases: CaseDecisions NewsFeed EnrollmentNews SHOPNews DistrictofColumbiaNews

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