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

yesterday in Sports

MLB officials defend instant reply

Umpires Jeff Kellogg, left, and D.J. Reyburn, listen to the replay umpires during a baseball game between the Miami Marlins and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Wednesday, April 9, 2014, in Washington.

Bob Bowman, chief executive officer of MLB Advanced Media, says the system based at his company's office has largely worked.

yesterday in Sports

Michigan losing Stauskas, Robinson to NBA

Michigan guard Nik Stauskas (11) drives against Michigan State guard Gary Harris (14) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the championship of the Big Ten Conference tournament Sunday, March 16, 2014, in Indianapolis.

The Wolverines lost Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway to the NBA last year as underclassmen, but retooled well enough to win the Big Ten title and advance to an NCAA tournament regional final.

yesterday in Viral Videos

How ‘Frozen’ Should Have Ended

How Frozen Should Have Ended

This "alternative ending" would have made Frozen a COMPLETELY different movie!

yesterday in Sports

MLB marks 67th anniversary of Robinson debut

A Philadelphia Phillies coach stands next to a sign honoring Jackie Robinson day prior to a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Monday, April 15, 2013, in Cincinnati.

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig retired Robinson's No. 42 in 1997 on the 50th anniversary of the big league debut of the Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman.

yesterday in Sports

49ers sign WR Brandon Lloyd to 1-year deal

FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2013, file photo, New England Patriots wide receiver Brandon Lloyd warms up before the NFL football AFC Championship football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Foxborough, Mass. The San Francisco 49ers have signed wide receiver Brandon Lloyd to a one-year contract that the 49ers announced Tuesday, April 15, 2014. He was a member of the 49ers from 2003-05, when he caught 105 passes for 1,510 yards and 13 touchdowns.

San Francisco selected Lloyd in the fourth round of the 2003 draft

Bellingham Traffic