Saturday, September 6, 2014

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

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)

FILED UNDER: U.S.PoliticsHealth Tweet this Link this Share this Digg this EmailPrintReprints   We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/Comments (4) carnivalchaos wrote: Wow, suing the President because he took steps to help Americans who couldn’t afford healthcare get healthcare coverage. History will record this one and expose this Congress for being the hateful, selfish, American haters that they are. No other country’s people oppose making healthcare affordable for all, except our rightwing conservanuts, the Christian, family values party. Ha.

Jul 31, 2014 10:11pm EDT  --  Report as abuse 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 JustProduce wrote: Yeah, suing the President because he took steps to deceive Americans with his unaffordable healthcare coverage disaster. History will record this one and support our Congress for having integrity, their selflessness; American heroes that they are. No other country’s people understand making markets viable for all, except our rightly conservative; the Christians with family values.

Jul 31, 2014 11:47pm EDT  --  Report as abuse See All Comments » Add Your Comment
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