If Republicans have their way, up to 5 million people may not get the government healthcare tax credits they were promised because of a technicality. This recent ruling by two Republican D.C. Circuit Court judges could result in skyrocketing health costs and the end of the Affordable Care Act.
In Halbig v. Burwell, a panel of three judges ruled that people who purchased healthcare through states using the federal health insurance exchange will not be eligible for subsidized insurance. The ruling barrels down to the language of the law, which neglects to specify subsidies would be provided for those purchasing through the federal exchange.
The ACA law specifically says subsidies will be provided to those who purchase insurance on health care exchanges established by the states. A total of 36 states decided to use the federal exchange instead of setting up their own. Even though the intention of the lawmakers was that those who purchase healthcare through the federal exchange would also get subsidies, opposers of the ACA have latched onto the poorly worded section and are saying it would be "illegal" to give subsidies to people who purchased through the federal exchange.
One lone judge dissented. Senior Circuit Judge Harry T. Edwards writes, "This case is about Appellants' not-so-veiled attempt to gut the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act."
Before you panic, you should know a federal appeals court panel in Virginia has upheld the subsidies. The White House would not be giving up without a fight, either. They plan to appeal the decision to the entire D.C. circuit court, and -- if necessary -- take the case to the Supreme Court. Considering the Supreme Court has already ruled to uphold the ACA, your subsidies should be safe.
It’s frightening to think that in the partisan tug-of-war game, the healthcare of millions of people could be in jeopardy based on semantics.
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