Navigation Links
2 Courts, 2 Different Decisions on Key Obamacare Provision

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, July 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- In a wild day for Obamacare, two federal appeals courts arrived at completely different conclusions Tuesday on the use of financial subsidies provided to millions of Americans who bought health insurance through the federal exchange.

The conflicting opinions suggest that the matter is headed for a showdown before the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a 2-1 ruling Tuesday morning, the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia Circuit said that the subsidies -- in the form of tax credits -- may only be provided to people who buy health plans in states that run their own health insurance exchanges. The exchanges are intended to let consumers shop for insurance plans that best meet their medical needs and financial abilities.

"We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance," Circuit Judge Thomas Griffith wrote for the majority.

"At least until states that wish to can set up exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for the millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly," he concluded.

In a dissenting opinion, Harry Edwards, a member of the three-judge District of Columbia panel, said, "This case is about appellants' not-so-veiled attempt to gut the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act."

The lawsuit was filed by a group of individuals and employers in states that did not establish health exchanges. They maintain that the Internal Revenue Service erred in extending subsidies to people who bought health plans through the federally run exchange.

But in a separate ruling later Tuesday, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., upheld the IRS's interpretation of the law.

Judge Roger Gregory wrote that "tax credits are essential to fulfilling the [Affordable Care] Act's primary goals and that Congress was aware of their importance when drafting the bill." He also noted that "the economic framework supporting the Act would crumble if the credits were unavailable on federal exchanges."

The subsidies are a crucial piece of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Without them, millions of Americans would be unable to purchase health insurance under the controversial health-reform law. The law requires virtually all Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty in the form of a tax.

Thirty-six states chose not to create their own Internet-based exchanges for consumers to sign up for insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Many are headed by Republican governors who oppose the law.

Of the more than 8 million people who signed up for an Obamacare health plan, more than 5 million selected a plan through the federal exchange, according to a June report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Eighty-seven percent of federal marketplace buyers selected plans with tax credits. Their premiums are 76 percent less than the full premium, on average, the report indicated.

The Affordable Care Act, often dubbed Obamacare, was championed by President Barack Obama and passed by Congress in 2010. The law is particularly unpopular with Republicans, who view it as an unconstitutional intrusion by the federal government into individual rights.

Opponents of the law maintain that Congress never intended to allow people who purchased plans in states that relied on the federally operated exchange to receive tax-credit subsidies.

Andrew Kloster, a legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., said the statute clearly directs subsidies "only to states that elected to set up insurance exchanges." He said the District of Columbia appeals court's decision "reaffirms that the administration cannot rewrite the health law that was passed, and it stops the Internal Revenue Service from doing the same."

Families USA, a consumer advocacy group that supports the Affordable Care Act, said Tuesday's decision by the D.C. jurists is not the final word.

"It will inevitably be placed on hold pending further proceedings," said Ron Pollack, the group's executive director.

"We expect that today's 2-1 split decision in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals represents the high-water mark for Affordable Care Act opponents -- and the water is already receding very rapidly, as today's subsequent ruling by the Fourth Circuit makes evident," he added.

If the battle over the subsidy provision reaches the U.S. Supreme Court, it won't be the first time the nation's highest court has weighed merits of the Affordable Care Act. In 2012, the court ruled 5-4 that the law itself was constitutional. Last month, the court ruled -- again, 5-4 -- that family-owned companies don't have to comply with a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires them to offer insurance coverage for contraception if that requirement violates their religious beliefs.

More information

Visit the official federal government website for details on coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

SOURCES: U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit; United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Richmond, Va.; Families USA, Washington, D.C.; The Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C.; June 18, 2014, research brief, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Copyright©2014 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Biomet Hip Lawsuits News: Number of Cases Increases in Federal Courts, Reports Rottenstein Law Group LLP
2. Mirena Lawsuits Reach Next Step in Federal Courts, Rottenstein Law Group LLP Reports
3. Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuits Progressing in Federal Courts, Rottenstein Law Group LLP Reports
4. GranuFlo Lawsuits Filed in Wake of GranuFlo and NaturaLyte Recall Mount in State and Federal Courts, Bernstein Liebhard LLP Reports
5. MedDiet has varied effects on cognitive decline among different races -- Ben-Gurion University researcher
6. SWI assesses signal strength in different brain regions after acute hemorrhagic anemia
7. Nearly 60,000 Vaginal Mesh Lawsuit Claims Filed Against Seven Different Pelvic Mesh Manufacturers
8. New Private School, Emerald City School, Founded in Downtown Seattle Now Accepting 1st to 6th Grade Students Who Learn Differently
9. Men and women use mental health services differently
10. Caffeine affects boys and girls differently after puberty, study finds
11. Cognitive test can differentiate between Alzheimers and normal aging
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/28/2015)... ... , ... Pixel Film Studios is back again with ProPanel: Pulse . ... endless. Users have full control over angle of view, speed method, start point, end ... to get heads to turn. , ProPanel: Pulse offers fully customizable pulsating shape masks, ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... ... According to an article published November 15th by ABC News, ... in light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, other cities are taking extra ... from reaching U.S. soil. Especially around special events that may be high-profile in nature, ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... , ... November 27, 2015 , ... ... the toilets were," said an inventor from Hillside, N.J. "Many people catch diseases ... cover so that individuals will always be protected from germs." , He developed ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... , ... MPWH, the No.1 Herpes-only dating community in the world, revealed that over 50% of ... than 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 – or 67% of the population ... global estimates of HSV-1 infection . , "The data shocks us highly!" said Michelle ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... The ... prided itself for not only fulfilling the needs of advisers and clients but ... affordable price and providing top-tier customer service. However, there's always room for improvement, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... --> adds "Global ... and "Investigation Report on China Repaglinide ... 2021 forecasts data and information to ... . --> ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Nov. 25, 2015 ... of the "Global Brain Monitoring Devices ... --> ) has announced ... Monitoring Devices Market 2015-2019" report to ... Markets ( ) has announced the ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015 AAIPharma Services Corp./Cambridge Major ... at least $15.8  Million to expand its laboratories ... . The expansion will provide additional office ... growing demands of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology markets. ... will provide up to 40,000 square feet of ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: