Differing Court Decisions Could Have Big Impact On Obamacare

Tuesday, July 22nd 2014, 6:56 pm

Dueling decisions Tuesday on cases that many say could decide the future of Obamacare.

The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit unanimously struck down a challenge to Obamacare subsidies, ruling unanimously that the people can get insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act through exchanges being run by either states or the federal government.

Just hours earlier, the DC circuit court had ruled in a 2-1 decision that subsidies, or tax credits, can only be available in the state exchanges— cutting out millions in the federal exchange and undermining the coverage goals of the Affordable Care Act. The Obama administration said it would ask the full appeals court for an en banc review.

Oklahoma filed the first lawsuit on the issue back in 2011. The ruling on that case is also due any day now.

7/22/2014 Related Story: Court Blows A Hole Though Obamacare Subsidy System

“This is the type of issue with differing decisions from different circuit courts that will probably end up in front of the Supreme Court,” said Patrick Syrick, the Solicitor General for the Oklahoma Office of the Attorney General.

In Oklahoma, about 55,000 people who signed up for health insurance would lose the government subsides that make insurance affordable, a key part of the Affordable Care Act. But those who are challenging the law say they believe that's why the administration isn't following the exact wording of the law.

“Once again we’re seeing the healthcare act is confusing. It’s chaotic. The administration keeps changing its processes, it’s procedures,” said Gov. Mary Fallin.

If the issue does go to the Supreme Court, a decision would likely come next year.

Tuesday's rulings do not change anything immediately due to the expected appeals of the decisions.