Appeals Court Agrees to Hear ACA Subsidy Case
Written by Editor   
Thursday, September 18, 2014 02:28 PM

A federal appeals court agreed to re-hear a case involving subsidies for individuals purchasing policies in the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) federally run health insurance exchanges.  The decision is widely seen as a victory for the Obama administration. "Because we conclude that the ACA unambiguously restricts the section 36B subsidy to insurance purchased on Exchanges 'established by the State,' we reverse the district court and vacate the IRS' [Internal Revenue Service's] regulation," wrote Judge Thomas Griffith on behalf of the three-judge panel.

The unfavorable ruling prompted the White House to request a review of the decision in the case -- known as Halbig v. Burwell -- by all 11 judges on the court (a procedure known as "en banc" review). The majority of the full court's judges are Democratic appointees.

The court agreed to the request and set oral arguments for the re-hearing for Dec. 17. As is customary in such situations, the court also vacated the decision of the three-judge panel.  Although nothing is certain, an en banc review is likely to result in the original decision being overturned, given the makeup of the full panel.  If the en banc panel does decide in favor of the Obama administration, that would greatly reduce the likelihood of the issue reaching the Supreme Court, Jost said, since such a decision would be in agreement with a similar decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., in a case known as King v. Burwell.