subsidy case could be reviewed by U.S. Supreme Court
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[August 01, 2014]
(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. (http://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
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.
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The Supreme Court upheld the Obamacare law on constitutional grounds
in 2012 but allowed states to opt out of a major provision involving
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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