Contradictory court rulings on Obamacare subsidies

One federal appeals court threw out the Obamacare subsidies, but hours later, another federal appeals court upheld them!

The Affordable Care Act promises government subsidies for qualified applicants who sign up with insurance exchanges set up by “states.”  It says nothing about subsidies for those who sign up with  insurance exchanges  set up by the federal government for the 29 states that refused to go along with Obamacare.   Nevertheless, those on federal exchanges have been getting subsidies.  But now a federal appeals court has struck down that practice, affecting nearly half of the people who have signed up.

Defenders of Obamacare say this was just a glitch in the wording, but there is evidence that the language restricting subsidies to state exchanges was intentional, an attempt to give states an incentive to join the program.

With these contradictory rulings, the whole issue is up in the air.  The  Supreme Court will have to settle it.

From Federal appeals courts issue contradictory rulings on health-law subsidies – The Washington Post:

Two federal appellate courts handed down contradictory rulings Tuesday on the legality of a central part of the Affordable Care Act that provides insurance subsidies to millions of Americans in three dozen states.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the subsidies available under the 2010 health-care law may be provided only to residents of states that set up their own health insurance marketplaces. Less than two hours later, the Richmond-based 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the subsidies, ruling in a separate case that the law’s language was ambiguous, giving the Obama administration the authority to allow the subsidies nationwide.

The divergent rulings increase the likelihood that the question will be decided by the Supreme Court. If the subsidies ultimately are struck down for states that did not set up their own marketplaces, it would be a crippling blow to the federal program, dramatically reducing the ability of low- and middle-income Americans to pay for health insurance, which is now mandatory for most people.

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


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