Yesterday two GOP judges in Washington D.C.’s Circuit Court ruled to gut a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, the one that allows the federal government to give subsidies to those individuals who enrolled through the federal exchange website.
In the 2-1 decision, the court basically allowed a typo to possibly take away health care from almost 5 million Americans.
Wording in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowed for premium subsidies to be given to those who qualified and “enrolled through an Exchange established by the State.” The Republican judges took this to mean that subsidies should only be given to those individuals who qualify in the 16 states that set up their own health care exchanges, not to those living in the 34 states that rely on the federal exchange.
“The problem confronting the [ACA] is that subsidies also turn on a third attribute of Exchanges: who established them,” the majority opinion said. “…Subsidies are available only for plans ‘enrolled in through an Exchange established by the State under section 1311 of the [ACA].'”
Just hours later, though, a federal appeals court in Virginia issued an opposite ruling, upholding the subsidies, saying,
“…the credits shall be available to anyone ‘enrolled in one or more qualified health plans through an Exchange,’ and then adopts by cross-reference an HHS [Department of Health and Human Services] definition of ‘Exchange’ that includes any Exchange, ‘regardless of whether the Exchange is established and operated by a State … or by HHS. Individuals who purchase insurance through federally-facilitated Exchanges are thus eligible for the premium tax credits.”
The ruling also included the IRS’ explanation, which stated,
“The statutory language of … provisions of the Affordable Care Act support the interpretation that credits are available to taxpayers who obtain coverage through a State Exchange, Regional Exchange, subsidiary Exchange, and the Federally-facilitated Exchange. Moreover, the relevant legislative history does not demonstrate that Congress intended to limit the premium tax credit to State Exchanges. Accordingly, the final regulations maintain the rule in the proposed regulations because it is consistent with the language, purpose, and structure of … the Affordable Care Act.”
Despite more than 40 unsuccessful congressional attempts to stop the Affordable Care Act, and a Supreme Court ruling that upheld the ACA, Republicans will stop at nothing to make sure that Americans do not have access to healthcare they can afford.