Obamacare opponents’ hearts rose this morning, as a three-judge panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the power of federal Obamacare exchanges to pay out tax credits to health insurers who sign up beneficiaries for subsidized Obamacare coverage. Because most states declined to set up their own Obamacare health insurance exchanges, subsidies to insurers would have come to a screaming halt in most of the country. Opponents have long hoped that such a decision would force the Administration back to the negotiating table with Congress.
However, merely a couple of hours later, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA upheld the Administration’s position: That federal exchanges have the same powers as state exchanges to pay out subsidies to health insurers. The Administration plans to appeal the DC panel’s decision to the entire DC Circuit, en banc (i.e. all eleven judges).
According to NCPA’s Devon Herrick: “Both these rulings expose yet more flaws in Obamacare that need to be addressed. Many exchange enrollees will undoubtedly be angered by the uncertainty, but many others would be relieved to be able to dump health plans they didn’t want in the first place. States need to act fast to allow individuals the opportunity to enroll in health plans previously outlawed under Obamacare. While Democrats will undoubtedly blame Republicans for ‘dragging their feet’ in the creation of state exchanges, the truth is that the federal government discouraged states from operating their own exchanges with onerous regulations, inflexible deadlines, and the promise that states that could merely opt out and allow the federal government to do the job for them.”
In light of both courts’ rulings, NCPA maintains its position. Namely, that that lawmakers focus on:
- Creating a uniform tax credit for all enrollees, regardless of whether they buy in a state or federal exchange.
- Streamlining the rules and allow flexibility for states that want to operate an exchange.
- Increasing consumer choice by offering a wider range of health plans, rather than limiting the options to the pre-approved plans offered by the Obama Administration.