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 Music

This week’s top rock tracks

Zac Brown as Zac Brown Band performs during Music Midtown 2014 at Piedmont Park on Saturday, Sep. 20, 2014, in Atlanta.

LISTEN: This week's top rock songs, according to the latest Billboard chart.

in Entertainment

Netflix: What’s coming and going in June

netflix

Find out what you should watch this weekend and get a sneak peak at what's being added next month.

in Entertainment

REVIEW: The Earth quakes, cleavage shakes in ‘San Andreas’

17-overlay9

"San Andreas" is so over the top, Michael Bay might find it excessive.

in Viral Videos

Paralyzed student walks across stage at college graduation

10-overlay5

Injured playing football in 2010, Christopher Norton walked across the stage with help from his new fiancée.

in Viral Videos

This ‘Single Ladies/Ducktales’ mashup is a thing of beauty

12-overlay4

WATCH: The infamous video from Beyoncé's hit single pairs perfectly with the cartoon theme song.