Obamacare subsidy case could be reviewed by U.S. Supreme Court

Thu Jul 31, 2014 10:03pm EDT

A woman walks to the Supreme Court in Washington June 19, 2014.     REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

A woman walks to the Supreme Court in Washington June 19, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts

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(Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to review a case about whether the federal government can subsidize health insurance for millions of Americans, a party involved in the lawsuit said on Thursday.

The petition requests the U.S. high court decide the issue after two lower U.S. court rulings created uncertainties last week regarding the legitimacy of subsidies for individuals enrolled on federally run exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is coordinating and funding the cases, filed the petition, according to the not-for-profit's website. (bit.ly/1tA8r5x)

The twin appeals court rulings, handed down by three-judge panels in Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia, fell in line with partisan disagreements over healthcare reform. Two judges appointed by Republican presidents decided against the administration in the District of Columbia and three judges appointed by Democrats ruled in favor in Virginia.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in a 2-1 decision that the language in the Affordable Care Act dealing with subsidies shows they should only be provided to consumers who purchase benefits on exchanges run by individual states.

However, plaintiffs in the D.C. Circuit case, known as Halbig v. Burwell, claimed that Congress did not intend to provide subsidies through federally operated marketplaces.

While the Supreme Court has broad discretion over which cases to take, a split among lower courts can be a big factor in its deciding whether to hear an appeal.

The Supreme Court upheld the Obamacare law on constitutional grounds in 2012 but allowed states to opt out of a major provision involving Medicaid coverage.

Analysts estimate that as many as 5 million people could be affected if subsidies disappear from the federal marketplace, which serves 36 states through the website HealthCare.gov.

(Reporting by Narottam Medhora and Amrutha Penumudi in Bangalore; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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Comments (30)
captjb wrote:
carnivalchaos must not understand that some of us have to pay our way in the country.

Jul 31, 2014 11:13pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Gene_S wrote:
The government in the DC case has asked for a rehearing en banc–by the full roster of judges on the DC Circuit. That means the case is still under consideration, and the Supremes are usually reluctant to yank a lower court case until it has been decided.

Jul 31, 2014 11:14pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
LizardGrinder wrote:
Our fore fathers formed a nation based on law. What do people not understand. Congress had a law written, then both the Senate and House passed it allegedly with out reading it. When the final version was signed by the President it became the law of the land. If because Congress either in the House or Senate chose not to read what they were passing and requiring the citizens to do then no one is to blame but them. The piss poor excuse after the fact saying what we meant was would maybe have been prevented if the law had been read. But with over 2000 pages to bury things in even their 72 hour grace period would not have allowed them to find the sutule nuances written into the language. So if the document states which it clearly does that only individuals who purchase Health Care Coverage via the State Exchange get a subsidy that is what the law states, they passed it.

The courts can not rule on so to say hearsay that what we meant was something different. Words have consequences. Congress can either write an amendment to the law or the courts can rule on what the law states. Let the chips fall where they may.

Sorry but no where in the Constitution does it say you have health care. Some want to say the Bill of Rights say, “Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Everyone has a different definition of Happiness. Some say Health. Others say growing a garden. Some say backpacking the wilderness. So everyone who wants to belly ache over the situation should get a copy of the Health Care law, all the additions written by the different agencies allowed to write their own portions and read it word for word, highlight what is in conflict with each portion and write their Congressman and Senator and point out the problems referencing page, paragraph and sentence. But too many of you belly ache with out the full knowledge of what the document states. You want to argue based on what you want it to say not what it said.

Jul 31, 2014 11:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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