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 Sports

Oklahoma’s Perine runs for record 427 yards

Fresh
football genric image

Oklahoma freshman Samaje Perine set a major college record by running for 427 yards in a driving rainstorm, scoring five touchdowns and leading the No. 23 Sooners over Kansas 44-7 Saturday.

in Entertainment

This weekend in entertainment history

elvis

A look at the Hollywood headlines that went down in history.

in Sports

USC coach confirms Josh Shaw will play vs UCLA

shaw

Cornerback Josh Shaw will play for Southern California in its rivalry showdown against UCLA, although his role hasn't been determined.

in Sports

Wizards hand Cavaliers 3rd straight loss

Washington Wizards' John Wall (2) in action during the second half of game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series against the Indiana Pacers Wednesday, May 7, 2014, in Indianapolis. Indiana defeated Washington 86-82.

The hustling Washington Wizards clamped down for a 91-78 win over LeBron James and the mostly flatfooted Cleveland Cavaliers.

in Sports

Judge denies sports betting in New Jersey

gavel laying

A federal judge says New Jersey cannot partially lift a prohibition on sports betting in an effort to boost the state's struggling horse racing and casino industries.

Bellingham Traffic