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

in National

Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony among frontrunners for new $10 bill

God Money

Officials plan to make a decision by this fall with the total redesign completed by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.

in Sports

Top seeds in a hurry on day of U.S. Open upsets

serena

World number ones Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic launched their U.S. Open title bids in ruthless style.

in Entertainment, Sports

Will Smith to take on NFL coverup

21-overlay

"Concussion" is based on Dr. Bennet Omalu, who was the first to discover the existence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (or CTE): a disease of the brain found in athletes with a history of repetitive brain trauma.

in Lifestyle, National

Smoking rate continues to fall

smoking

The smoking rate dropped to 17 percent last year, down from about 18 percent in 2013.

in Sports

Los Angeles poised to vote on 2024 Olympic plan

losangeles

With Boston out, Los Angeles appears on the verge of stepping in as the U.S. candidate for the 2024 Olympic Games.