In an appeal pending before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the fate of federal subsidies to health insurance companies lay in the balance after a federal judge sided with a lawsuit by Republicans claiming the payments were unconstitutional since the House of Representatives had never appropriated the funds.

Now a group of 16 state attorneys general, all Democrats, is seeking to intervene in the proceedings to prevent a cutoff of funds provided for in a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or more commonly, Obamacare). The group, which filed a motion to intervene, is being led by the California and New York AGs, Xavier Becerra and Eric Schneiderman.

The subsidies, totaling about $7 billion a year, are meant to defray losses by health insurers when providing insurance for low-income customers.

“The stakes are very high. In Maryland we have more than 400,000 people who depend on the Affordable Care Act to get normal health care. It sounds alarming, but it’s true: lives are at stake,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, who signed on to the filing.

President Trump, who calls the subsidies a “bailout,” has threatened to withhold the funds as a bargaining chip in negotiations.