News

Court rejects challenge to Obamacare subsidies

Court rejects challenge to Obamacare subsidies

OBAMACARE: In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman wrote that Congress clearly intended to make the subsidies available nationwide under the new law. Photo: Reuters

By David Ingram

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal judge on Wednesday rejected a conservative challenge to health insurance subsidies available to people in the 34 U.S. states that declined to establish their own online marketplaces under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law.

The suit, brought by individuals and businesses from Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia, asserted that the wording of the 2010 law allowed subsidies to help people obtain insurance only in exchanges established by states, not those set up by the federal government.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman wrote that Congress clearly intended to make the subsidies available nationwide under the new law.

“There is evidence throughout the statute of Congress’s desire to ensure broad access to affordable health coverage,” the judge wrote.

Michael Carvin, a lawyer for those who brought the suit, filed a notice that he would appeal the ruling within an hour after it was posted online.

“This decision guts the choice made by a majority of the states to stay out of the exchange program,” Sam Kazman, another lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement.

The law, dubbed Obamacare, aims to provide health coverage to millions of uninsured or under-insured Americans by offering private insurance at federally subsidized rates through new online health insurance marketplaces in all 50 states and in Washington, D.C.

Only 14 states opted to create and operate their own exchanges, leaving the Obama administration to operate a federal marketplace for the remaining 36 states that can be accessed through HealthCare.gov.

The exchanges were launched last October.

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department, which is defending the law, said officials were pleased with the decision.

The subsidies, in the form of tax credits, are a key part of the healthcare overhaul. They are available to people with annual incomes of up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or $94,200 for a family of four.

The case is Halbig v. Sebelius, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, No. 1:13-cv-623.

(Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Will Dunham)

Recent Headlines

15 minutes ago in Local Sports

Report: NHL Commissioner not considering expansion into Seattle now

Fresh
Photo Credit: WENN

NHL Commisioner Gary Bettman has thrown up a big stop sign in front of expansion plans focused on the Emerald…

yesterday in Entertainment

‘The Other Woman’ serves up revenge in comic female fantasy

other

"The Other Woman" is a somewhat rare species - a comedy by women, about women and for women.

yesterday in Sports

Pineda not only pitcher in majors to try pine tar

Home plate umpire Gerry Davis ejects New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda after a foreign substance was discovered on the right side of his neck in the second inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday, April 23, 2014.

The Yankees pitcher is hardly the first major leaguer to use pine tar to aid his grip. He just got caught.

yesterday in Local Sports

Green Bay vs. Seattle will cost you

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson tries to avoid the rush of Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews (52) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Friday, Aug. 23, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis.

So you want to see 2014 NFL season opener between the Packers and the Seahawks…prepare to open up your wallet.

yesterday in Local Sports

Sherman says money equals respect

Seattle Seahawks Richard Sherman (25) comes up with the football as Seahawks' Earl Thomas (29) celebrates after Sherman intercepted an Arizona Cardinals pass in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Seattle.

Seattle Seahawk cornerback Richard Sherman wants to get paid.