Dueling rulings on health law subsidies leave states in lurch

States are pondering their places in the health law's federal- or state-based health insurance exchanges after a pair of contradictory appeals court rulings Tuesday threw up in the air if states that use the federal exchange can offer subsidies to their residents to help afford coverage.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: Appeals Courts Issue Contradictory Rulings On Health Care Subsidies
Two federal appeals courts on Tuesday issued contradictory rulings on whether low- and middle-income people may receive federal subsidies to buy policies in the states that did not set up their own health insurance exchanges. The issue, which could be heading to the U.S. Supreme Court, is crucial in 34 states, including Virginia, which did not set up their own health exchanges. … In Virginia, 82 percent of the 216,356 people who signed up for marketplace plans in the first enrollment period got financial assistance. Those 177,000 people are receiving an annual average of $3,048, according to the state Attorney General's Office (Cain and Martz, 7/22).

The Oregonian: Dueling Health Care Law Rulings Leave Experts Split On Oregon's Insurance Premium Subsidies
Conflicting federal appeals court rulings over whether the federal health insurance exchange can issue premium tax credits won't have any effect in Oregon over the short term. The long-term outcome may have to wait for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, and potentially won't even be settled then. That's because Oregon's plan to use the federal exchange in 2015, while keeping some functions under state control, may fall into a legal gray area, experts said Tuesday. At issue is whether all states, including those using the federal exchange, can issue reduced premiums to people with qualifying incomes under the 2010 Affordable Care Act. About 70,000 Oregonians received the subsidies this year (Budnick, 7/22).

The Boston Globe: Mass. Unlikely To Be Affected By Health Care Rulings
Will Tuesday's conflicting court rulings on federal health insurance subsidies have any bearing in Massachusetts? It appears unlikely, even though the state has left open the possibility of joining the federal healthcare.gov insurance marketplace. If the Massachusetts Health Connector does go that route, it would still be considered a state-based exchange, but one supported by the federal government -- and it's not clear whether the rulings would apply (Freyer, 7/22).

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Dueling Court Rulings Leave Obamacare Subsidies Up In Air
The rulings could affect subsidies for more than 4 million people nationally, including more than 100,000 in Wisconsin, and created immediate confusion among some consumers. Arise Health Plan, which sold individual plans in Milwaukee as well as elsewhere in eastern Wisconsin, said it received phone calls Tuesday from confused customers. An estimated 90 percent of the 130,000 people in Wisconsin who have bought health plans sold on the marketplace set up under the law qualified for subsidies (Boulton and Gumpert, 7/22).

Des Moines Register: Obamacare Rulings Could Affect 24,000 Iowans
More than 24,000 Iowans could lose subsidized health insurance if courts ban the government from helping pay for policies purchased on the federal government's online marketplace, Iowa's insurance commissioner said today. ... Iowa is one of [36] states that do not have their own health-insurance marketplaces. Leaders here looked into building one, but decided instead to use the federal version of the system, called healthcare.gov (Leys, 7/22).

Georgia Health News: Exchange Subsidies Draw Conflicting Court Rulings
More than 190,000 Georgians are enrolled in the health insurance exchange created by the Affordable Care Act. But if a D.C. federal court ruling announced Tuesday on exchange subsidies is ultimately upheld, that Georgia number could shrink precipitously. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled Tuesday that the language of the ACA allows subsidies, or discounts, only for people who obtain coverage through exchanges run by the states, and not by the federal government. Georgia is among 36 states whose insurance exchanges are federally run (Miller, 7/22).

Kansas Health Institute News Service: Conflicting Rulings On Obamacare Subsidies Put Consumers In Limbo
Conflicting federal court rulings are raising questions about whether consumers in Kansas and Missouri will continue to be eligible for subsidies when purchasing private health insurance through the Obamacare marketplace (McLean, 7/22).

The CT Mirror: Obamacare's Big Day In Court Means Little For CT
Two federal courts issued conflicting rulings on the health law known as Obamacare Tuesday, but their decisions aren't expected to directly affect Connecticut residents. That's because the cases address whether it's legal for the federal government to help pay the insurance premiums of people who buy their insurance through federally run marketplaces known as exchanges. Connecticut's health insurance exchange, Access Health CT, is run by the state, not the federal government. That means the legality of federal subsidies provided to Access Health customers is not in question (Becker, 7/22).

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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