KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Challenge To Health Insurance Subsidies At Center Of Appeals Court Hearing

News outlets report that a split federal appeals court on Tuesday debated whether individuals buying health insurance in the federal marketplace should be eligible for tax subsidies, presenting a potentially serious legal challenge to a central part of President Barack Obama's health care law.

The New York Times: Arguments Against Health Law Subsidies Gain Traction
Two of the three federal judges hearing a challenge to the Affordable Care Act appeared open on Tuesday to the argument that people buying health insurance in the federal marketplace should not be eligible for tax subsidies, the first indication that the White House could be facing another potentially serious legal challenge to a central part of President Obama’s health care law. The judges’ comments came at a hearing in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Pear, 3/25).

The Wall Street Journal: Appeals Court Hears Arguments On Federal Health-Insurance Subsidies
A federal appeals court on Tuesday appeared divided on a central component of the Affordable Care Act as it heard arguments about whether the federal health insurance exchange can offer subsidies to consumers. Under the 2010 health law, lower earners who buy policies in the law's new system of insurance marketplaces are entitled to a tax credit. Challengers of the law argue that such subsidies should only be available through state exchanges because of way law was written when it referred to insurance exchanges "established by the state" (Corbett Dooren, 3/25).

Fox News: Small Biz vs. Obamacare One Step Closer to Supreme Court
Small business owners from six states continued their Obamacare fight against Uncle Sam Tuesday at the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, after their case was struck down in early January. The plaintiffs argue that because they live in states that opted not to set up health-care exchanges, they (and all state residents) should not be subject to penalties under the Affordable Care Act’s individual and employer mandate. If the plaintiffs were to win, the federal subsidy system stands a chance at being invalidated, thus leading to more mass confusion for those who are currently enrolled in plans with these premium tax credits (Rogers, 3/25).

The Associated Press: Divided Federal Appeals Judges Debate Subsidies For Obamacare Insurance Exchanges
A split federal appeals court on Tuesday grappled with an issue that is crucial to the success of President Barack Obama’s health care law, debating whether the government can subsidize premiums for people who buy insurance on exchanges run by Washington. In a blunt assessment of the health overhaul and challengers to the Affordable Care Act, Judge A. Raymond Randolph described the launch of the act as ‘‘an unmitigated disaster’’ while Judge Harry Edwards said opponents of the law are seeking ‘‘to destroy the individual mandate and gut the statute’’ (Yost, 3/25).

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