This will hurt..

The federal government doesn’t have to pay health insurers money they claim they’re owed from an Obamacare program, a federal appellate court ruled Thursday morning in a case with billions of dollars at stake.

A divided three-judge panel rejected claims from two Obamacare insurers that the federal government was required to make good on payments from a program meant to protect insurers who attracted customers who were sicker and more expensive than anticipated.

The two insurers were seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in payments from Obamacare’s risk corridor program, and at least three dozen other insurers have filed similar lawsuits. In all, insurers say they’re owed more than $12 billion from the risk corridor program, a shortfall they have partially blamed for skyrocketing premiums and dwindling competition in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces.

The court, siding with the Trump administration, said the federal government didn’t have to make the payments because Congress had taken action — after Obamacare’s passage — requiring the program to be budget neutral year after year. The decision is likely to set a precedent for the other pending cases. The insurers can appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, raising the prospect that the high court could again weigh in on an Obamacare case.