Tags: Healthcare Reform | Obamacare | Healthcare | Hobby Lobby | Supreme Court

Politico: Obamacare Fate Hangs On Supreme Court Rulings

Thursday, 02 October 2014 09:59 AM

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on whether it will hear three controversial Obamacare cases affecting millions of Americans when it returns for a new session next week.

The justices will decide on whether to weigh in on a challenge to the healthcare law's tax subsidies after two lower court gave conflicting opinions on the issue, Politico reports.

The lawsuit claims that only consumers in the 14 states with their own insurance marketplace should receive Obamacare tax credits and not the individuals in 36 states which bought healthcare insurance through the government exchange.

The justices are also expected to have to make a ruling on hearing a case based on whether religious non-profits must provide contraception in employee health plans, the political news website said.

The lawsuit followed a previous decision from the top court that only private for-profit companies could be exempt for religious reasons from the healthcare law's controversial birth control regulation.

The third case that the court may be asked to weigh in on centers on whether the Affordable Care Act was in fact a tax bill, which under the Constitution must be launched in the House of Representatives instead of the Senate, according to Politico.

In the first case, millions of Americans received tax subsidies when they bought healthcare coverage through the government exchange HealthCare.gov.

But in a case referred to as Halbig, after one of the challengers, the plaintiffs claim that the actual wording of the law makes it clear that the credits are available only to people who bought plans on state-run exchanges.

The decision, if it withstands appeals, may deprive millions of Americans the Obamacare tax credits they need to afford their health plans.

But the government says that the entire reading of the law clearly shows that it is intended for all Americans, regardless of whether they are using state or federal exchanges, according to Politico.

Although the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, ruled in favor of the government in the case, a three-judge panel in the D.C. Circuit Court in Washington ruled for Halbig by 2-1.

However, the entire panel of judges at the D.C. court has decided to rehear the arguments in what is being called a rare "en blanc" ruling by the lower court justices.

Although the result of that hearing will not likely be known until next year, the plaintiffs in the Virginia case have asked for their case to be heard by the Supreme Court.

If the government loses the case, it could set off an Obamacare death spiral in which millions of Americans cannot afford the premium without subsidies, resulting in a complete collapse of the system.

The follow-up to the Hobby Lobby case is far more likely to receive the attention of the top court, Politico reported.

It centers on whether nonprofit religious institutions, such as Catholic schools, have to provide contraceptive coverage to female employees under the Obamacare mandate. The University of Notre Dame is expected to file a lawsuit against the mandate this week.

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The U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on whether it will hear three controversial Obamacare cases affecting millions of Americans when it returns for a new session next week.
Obamacare, Healthcare, Hobby Lobby, Supreme Court
Thursday, 02 October 2014 09:59 AM
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