In the ongoing saga over cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to health insurers, a federal judge has sided with the insurers and ordered the federal government to cough up $1.6 billion.

health-care-spending-to-rise-5.5%-annuallyThe CSR payments were promised in the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) in exchange for insurers keeping premiums affordable for low-income consumers. The funds, however, were never appropriated by the House of Representatives, where all funding measures must originate.

House Republicans sued over the issue, and the Trump administration withheld payment starting in 2017.

Chief Judge Margaret M. Sweeney of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims yesterday ruled that the “government can create a liability without providing for the means to pay for it.”

Now the U.S. is on the hook for $1.6 billion in CSR funds for 2017 and 2018.

The class action lawsuit is Common Ground Healthcare Corp. v. United States.