Parsing the health law court decisions: What does it all mean?

Published on July 25, 2014 at 2:54 AM · No Comments

News outlets analyze this week's conflicting appeals courts' decisions regarding a key part of the health law, including the impact the ultimate outcome of the cases could have on coverage, politics and the marketplace.

The New York Times: Court Ruling On Health Care Subsidies Risks Loss Of Coverage
The conflicting court rulings left much unresolved -; both cases will be appealed further, and additional cases challenging the subsidies in federal exchange states are still making their way through trial courts in Indiana and Oklahoma. But the ruling in Halbig v. Burwell, in which a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found that subsidies could be awarded only in states that set up their own insurance exchanges, raised the possibility that many of the 4.5 million people who were found eligible for subsidized insurance through the federal exchange would drop their new coverage (Goodnough, 7/23).

Kaiser Health News: New Health Law Court Decisions Could Have Limited Political Impact
Political analysts say this week's court decisions on the legality of tax subsidies for those obtaining coverage under the Affordable Care Act may not have a broad impact on this fall's midterm elections. The decisions sent a mixed legal message, complicating the political message as well. One appellate court panel ruled the subsidies cannot be provided in the 36 states relying on the federal insurance exchange; the other ruled in favor of the Obama administration, saying Congress intended that the subsidies be available regardless of whether states operated their own insurance marketplace (Carey and Rovner, 7/24). 

Bloomberg: No Panic As Obamacare Subsidies Seem Safe For Future
Americans are unlikely to lose Obamacare subsidies any time soon, at least, and not in most states. A three-judge panel of a federal appeals court in Washington ruled July 22 that subsidies to help people pay insurance premiums are illegal in 36 states that use the federal healthcare.gov system. The ruling, in a case brought by political opponents of the health law, rattled advocates who painted doomsday scenarios of broken insurance markets across the country. That probably won't happen, health-care industry executives and analysts said in interviews. The ruling is likely to be reversed, and even if it isn't, a way to work around the court decision might be as simple as a bit of legislation in statehouses (Wayne, 7/24).

The Wall Street Journal: Key Question On Health-Law Subsidies: Were Plaintiffs Harmed?
That argument is simmering beneath court battles about the legality of insurance subsidies tied to the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Klemencic is a key plaintiff in a case in which a Washington, D.C., court Tuesday invalidated subsidies for consumers in up to 36 states, the ones relying on a federal insurance exchange. Whether challengers like Mr. Klemencic had legal standing to sue the Obama administration in the first place turns on whether he was harmed by the subsidies. The ruling struck down an Internal Revenue Service rule that said qualifying consumers could receive subsidies whether they bought coverage on a state-run insurance exchange or a federal one. A second court, in Virginia, upheld the legality of the subsidies in another ruling Tuesday (Kendall, 7/23).

Modern Healthcare: Working Around Exchange Subsidy Ruling Should Be Easy
Tuesday's split decision in two federal appellate court cases over whether consumers shopping on the federal insurance exchange can receive premium subsidies could have major effects on the healthcare market. But some experts say officials in states that have not established their own state-run exchanges could solve the problem fairly easily if they want to, and that they will face significant political pressure to do so (Tahir and Demko, 7/23).

The New York Times: Bolstered By Ruling, Republicans Attack Health Law
Republicans in Congress resumed their campaign against the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday with new zeal, fired up by a ruling of a federal appeals court panel that said premium subsidies paid to millions of Americans in 36 states were illegal. Republicans pointed to the ruling as evidence of problems in the law that could not easily be solved (Pear, 7/23).


http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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