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 Local Sports

Hernandez strikes out 12 as Seattle beats Texas 3-1

Fresh
felix hernadez seattle mariners mlb generic

Felix Hernandez struck out 12 over seven innings

in Sports

Saturday’s NHL Playoff Results

Updated
FILE - In this file photo taken Sept. 17, 2012, the NHL logo is seen on a goal at a Nashville Predators practice rink in Nashville, Tenn. The NHL eliminated 16 more days from the regular-season schedule Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, and if a deal with the players' association isn't reached soon the whole season could be lost. The league wiped out all games through Dec. 30 in its latest round of cancellations. Negotiations between the league and the players' association broke off last week, but NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Sunday the sides are trying to restart talks this week.

Lightning rebound to even series against Red Wings Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop stopped 24 shots for his first NHL playoff…

in Local Sports

Calgary coach Bob Hartley fined $50,000 by the NHL

Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley stands behind his bench during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh Friday, Dec. 12, 2014. The Penguins won 3-1.

Hartley was fined by the NHL for his responsibility for a brawl late in the Flames' 4-1 loss in Vancouver on Friday

in Sports

NBA Playoffs: Warriors survive scare, Wizards beat Raptors in OT, Bulls decisive over Bucks

Golden State Warriors shooting guard Stephen Curry gestures against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first quarter of Game 6 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, May 1, 2014.

Stephen Curry scored 34 points with an MVP-worthy performance, and the Golden State went up big before holding off New Orleans.

in Sports

NHL player Jarret Stoll arrested in Las Vegas

File Photo: Jarret Stoll at the 2014 ESPY's. 
Credit: FayesVision/WENN.com

The two-time Stanley Cup winner was arrested Friday for suspected cocaine possession at the MGM Grand Hotel's Wet Republic pool complex.