A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that the U.S. government does not owe health insurers billions of dollars in unpaid risk-corridor funds meant to offset losses during the early years of the Affordable Care Act exchanges.

Although more than three dozen insurers claimed the federal government owed them more than $8 billion in risk-corridor payments, a panel of judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit determined the payments weren’t necessary since Congress deemed the program had to be budget-neutral.

The 2-to-1 decision applies to Moda Health and Land of Lincoln Health, the subjects of two conflicting lower court decisions on the issue.

The risk-corridor program was created in the ACA as a safety net that would curb losses and profits in the first three years of the health insurance exchanges. Plans with greater than expected medical claims could recoup some of those losses, while insurers with lower than expected costs would pay into the program. Republican lawmakers have called the program, which was required by Congress to be budget-neutral, a “bailout” for the insurance industry.

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