KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Critics Ask Supreme Court To Take Case About Health Law Subsidies

The appeal comes after the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., upheld the administration's use of subsidies on the federal insurance marketplaces. The D.C. appeals court has ruled against the administration on the issue, and critics hope the high court will step in to resolve the matter.

Los Angeles Times: Lawyers Challenging Health Subsidies Seek Quick Supreme Court Ruling
Lawyers challenging President Obama's healthcare law filed a quick appeal with the Supreme Court on Thursday, urging justices to take up the issue this fall and throw out insurance subsidies for nearly 5 million Americans. "The monumental significance of this legal issue requires the court's immediate, urgent attention," they said in a filing. "The longer the lawless IRS rule is in effect, the greater the upheaval when it is ultimately vacated" (Savage, 7/31). 

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Law Opponents Seek Supreme Court Review
Opponents of health-insurance subsidies tied to the Affordable Care Act moved quickly Thursday to get an appeal in front of the Supreme Court. The challengers, Virginia residents who objected to the subsidies, filed a petition with the high court just nine days after the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., upheld an Obama administration regulation that said subsidized insurance was available to qualifying consumers nationwide. That appeals court decision was one of two issued on the same day in mid-July that reached conflicting conclusions on the legality of the administration's approach. A federal appeals court in Washington ruled against the government, siding with a different group of challengers who argued language in the 2010 health-care law prohibited subsidies for those who buy insurance on a federal exchange, instead of one run by a state (Kendall, 7/31). 

Politico: Supreme Court Asked To Hear Obamacare Subsidies Case
The four Virginians whose challenge to Obamacare subsidies suffered a defeat last week are now asking the Supreme Court to hear the case. Their lawsuit was dismissed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which ruled that the Obama administration can legally award the subsidies through federally run insurance exchanges — not just those run by the states themselves. The individuals behind King v. Burwell say the subsidies are being improperly awarded through Virginia’s federally run exchange (Winfield Cunningham, 7/31). 

NBC: Obamacare Challengers Urge Quick U.S. Supreme Court Review
Challengers of a key provision of the Obama healthcare law Thursday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case and decide quickly whether people who buy their health insurance on state exchanges qualify for a federal subsidy. Two federal courts reached opposite conclusions on that issue (Williams, 7/31).

Fox News: Obamacare May Be Headed to Supreme Court – Again
President Obama's federal health care law may be headed to the Supreme Court – again. The high court has been asked to review a July 22 ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that declared constitutional all federal subsidies granted to enrollees of the health care system (7/31).

The Hill: High Court Asked to Rule On Obamacare Subsidies
The Supreme Court on Thursday was asked to decide whether some of the subsidies distributed under ObamaCare are illegal. Lawyers petitioned the high court over last week’s decision in King v. Burwell, which found that the government has the power to distribute subsidies for health insurance in the federal exchange HealthCare.gov. (Al-Faruque, 7/31).

Reuters: Obamacare Subsidy Case Could Be Reviewed By U.S. Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to review a case about whether the federal government can subsidize health insurance for millions of Americans, a party involved in the lawsuit said on Thursday. The petition requests the U.S. high court decide the issue after two lower U.S. court rulings created uncertainties last week regarding the legitimacy of subsidies for individuals enrolled on federally run exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is coordinating and funding the cases, filed the petition, according to the not-for-profit's website (7/31).

Modern Healthcare: ACA Subsidy Case Being Appealed to U.S. Supreme Court
Plaintiffs who lost in the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling over the legality of health insurance subsidies being paid to those who bought plans on non-state exchanges have formally asked the Supreme Court to take up the case. Last week, three judges in the 4th Circuit ruled in King v. Burwell that health insurance subsidies granted through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act were legal in both state and federal exchanges. The decision came mere hours after the D.C. Circuit Court in Washington produced a contradictory decision in Halbig v. Burwell. The Halbig ruling said the letter of the law forbade tax subsidies for exchanges not operated by states (Herman, 7/31).

On the issue of the House Republicans' lawsuit against President Obama over the health law-

The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog: A Primer On Boehner V. Obama
The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 225-201 to authorize Republican Speaker John Boehner to bring a lawsuit against the Obama administration accusing the president of overstepping his legal authority. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the unprecedented constitutional battle unfolding in Washington (Gershman, 7/31). 

Meanwhile, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg talks about some recent health-related decisions-

Yahoo: Ruth Bader Ginsburg On Hobby Lobby Dissent
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, fresh off a bruising loss in the Hobby Lobby birth control case last month, told Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric in an exclusive interview that she believes the male Supreme Court justices who voted against her have a "blind spot" when it comes to women. "Do you believe that the five male justices truly understood the ramifications of their decision?" Couric asked Ginsburg of the 5-4 Hobby Lobby ruling, which cleared the way for employers to deny insurance coverage of contraceptives to female workers on religious grounds. "I would have to say no," the 81-year-old justice replied. Asked if the five justices revealed a "blind spot" in their decision, Ginsburg said yes (Goodwin, 7/31).

The Associated Press: Ginsburg: Court Right To Void Clinic Buffer Zones
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is defending a rare Supreme Court decision that put her at odds with women's rights groups. Ginsburg said the court's unanimous ruling in June that struck down the 35-foot, protest-free zone on sidewalks outside Massachusetts abortions clinics was a good decision that balanced the rights of access to the clinics and speech of abortion opponents. (Sherman, 8/1).

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