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

Maria Sharapova beats Peng in 4th round at Australian Open

Maria Sharapova of Russia chases down on a shot to Petra Martic of Croatia during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015.

Second-seeded Maria Sharapova is through to the Australian Open quarterfinals after a 6-3, 6-0 win over China's Peng Shuai on Sunday.

in Sports

Cubs great Ernie Banks dies

File Photo: Ernie Banks 2013
Credit :	Travis Jourdain/WENN.com
Special Instructions :

The Chicago Cubs say Hall of Famer and two-time MVP Ernie Banks was 83 when he died Friday night. The team did not provide a cause of death.

in Sports

Belichick on deflated balls

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the sidelines in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Carolina Panthers, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, in Foxborough, Mass.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is defending the way his team preps its game balls…

in Entertainment

This weekend in entertainment history

In this film publicity image released by 20th Century Fox, the character Neytiri, voiced by Zoe Saldana, left, and the character Jake, voiced by Sam Worthington are shown in a scene from, "Avatar." The film was nominated Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010 for an Oscar for best picture. The 82nd Academy Awards will be presented on March 7.

A look back on some of Hollywood's most notable headlines.

in Sports

Kobe to be re-examined before deciding injury fate

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) drives against New Orleans Pelicans guard Quincy Pondexter (20) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, in New Orleans. The Pelicans won 96-80.

Bryant was examined Friday in Los Angeles. He tore his rotator cuff Wednesday in New Orleans.

Bellingham Traffic