Two federal courts, two conflicted rulings. What does it all mean?
On Tuesday, two federal courts issued rulings on President Obama’s healthcare law. Here’s what you need to know about how the rulings affect you:
What did the courts say?
A panel in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) does not allow the federal government to distribute insurance subsidies through a federal exchange being used in 36 states. Many states declined to set up their own insurance exchanges, forcing the federal government to set up its own central exchange where subsidized plans are sold. The D.C. court said that only people living in those states with their own exchanges are eligible for federal subsidies, due to ambiguities in the language of the ACA.
But in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, judges reached the opposite conclusion. That panel ruled that the federal government doeshave the authority to hand out insurance subsidies through the federal exchange, and always intended subsidies to be available to any eligible individual in the U.S., regardless of who is running the exchange.
What happens next?
The federal government will appeal the D.C. court ruling and plaintiffs in the identical case in the Fourth Circuit will also likely appeal. The issue is likely to remain unsettled for many months.
What does this mean for Americans currently getting insurance through the ACA?
Nothing yet. With conflicting rulings on the same day and appeals certain, the status quo will remain in place — for now.