Affordable Care Act Causes (Another) Disagreement in the Courtroom

Affordable-Care-Act---.vs-BurwellIt’s safe to say that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been the root of a lot of disagreement for the past few months. Recent conflicting ACA rulings issued by two federal appeals courts are not going to help resolve these disagreements anytime soon.

The two recent cases were focused on a section of the health care reform law that says the government can provide subsidies to individuals who buy insurance on an exchange “established by a state.” That simple phrase has caused a plethora of problems. In the case of Halbig v. Burwell, that went before the Washington D.C. court, a three-judge panel ruled that this phrase should be interpreted exactly as written, meaning that only the sixteen states that have established their own exchange, in addition to the District of Columbia, would be eligible to receive the subsidies. According to HR Morning  denying the funding to the remaining 34 states would “largely gut the whole health reform program.”

A few hours later, in the case of King v. Burwell, a courtroom in Richmond, VA released its decision which allowed subsidies to be available to participants using any health exchange. The judges ruled that the ACA language was too ambiguous.

The Obama administration announced it would seek an en bac hearing in the D.C. case, which will bring the issue in front of the 11-member appeals court. Legal experts disagree how this will affect the overall future of Obamacare. Only time will truly tell which decision will stand in the court room.


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