Law Professor Dobbins comments in PBJ article on ACA's 'Risk Corridors' program

by Raymond Penney,

  • Associate Professor Jeffrey C. Dobbins
    Jeffrey C. Dobbins, associate professor of law and executive director of the Oregon Law Commission at Willamette University College of Law.

Civil procedure expert and Willamette University Associate Professor of Law Jeffrey C. Dobbins commented in a Portland Business Journal (PBJ) article reporting on a lawsuit filed by Health Republic Insurance Co., which is suing for $20 million dollars owed to the company under the Affordable Care Act. The Lake Oswego-based carrier is seeking class-action status and $5 billion dollars for all U.S. insurers owed money under the “risk corridors” program.

The three-year program was designed to reduce the financial risks for insurers selling policies on the new insurance exchanges. Since no one was sure how to set premiums, the program was intended to discourage insurers from charging exorbitant rates. Plans with lower costs would pay into the program which would cover losses for the less profitable insurers.

PBJ reports that a 2014 Congressional spending bill made the program budget neutral and funding for the risk corridors came up short. $326 million dollars was paid into the program while $2.9 billions dollars was owed. Health Republic is arguing that the Department of Health and Human Services is legally responsible for the risk corridors payment.

“It could be that the government will say,‘ You’re right, we owe money and we have to pay it,’” said Professor Dobbins. “Is it a fight about whether we win on legal issues or a fight about where the money might come from?”

The Department of Justice’s response is due June 24.

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About Jeffrey C. Dobbins

Jeffrey C. Dobbins is an associate professor of law and executive director of the Oregon Law Commission at Willamette University College of Law, where he teaches Federal Courts, Administrative Law and seminars in specialized areas of civil procedure. His scholarship focuses on areas of civil procedure and federal jurisdiction, with an emphasis on appellate process and theory. Dobbins practiced law in both public and private sectors before coming to Willamette. Throughout his career, he has briefed and argued more than 50 cases in federal and state appellate courts.

About Willamette University College of Law

Opened in 1883, Willamette University College of Law is the first law school in the Pacific Northwest. The college has a long tradition at the forefront of legal education and is committed to the advancement of knowledge through excellent teaching, scholarship, mentoring and experience. Leading faculty, thriving externship and clinical law programs, ample practical skills courses, and a proactive career placement office prepare Willamette law students for today's legal job market. According to statistics compiled by the American Bar Association, Willamette ranks first in the Pacific Northwest for job placement for full-time, long-term, JD-preferred/JD-required jobs for the class of 2014 and first in Oregon for the classes of 2012, 2013 and 2014. Located across the street from the state capitol complex and the Oregon Supreme Court in downtown Salem, the college specializes in law and government, law and business, and dispute resolution. 

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