KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Justice Dept. Seeks Full Court Appeal Hearing In Health Law Case

Last month, a three-judge panel ruled against the administration in the case Halbig v. Burwell, which is viewed as a blow to the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, Stateline reports that, based on that ruling, only those states with clear state-based exchange credentials are on solid legal footing.  

Stateline: Court Rulings Add Urgency To State Exchange Decisions
As states ready their health insurance exchanges for a second open enrollment season in November, many have more to worry about than the computer glitches that plagued them last year. Last month’s federal appeals court ruling that said language in the Affordable Care Act allows only state-run exchanges to give consumers tax credits to help pay for policy premiums is spurring several states to solidify their state-based credentials. Only the District of Columbia and 14 states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington — have established state exchanges and are on firm legal ground, according the decision, Halbig v. Burwell (Vestal, 8/4).

Politico: White House Appeals Obamacare Subsidy Case
The Obama administration Friday asked a federal appeals court to grant another hearing in a case challenging Obamacare subsidies, and hours later, the court gave the subsidies opponents 15 days to respond to that request. The Justice Department filed the petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in the case Halbig v. Burwell. In a blow to the Affordable Care Act, a three-judge panel ruled last month that the subsidies can’t flow through the federal exchange,, but only through state markets (Winfield Cunningham, 8/1).

The Associated Press: Justice Dept Seeks Appeal in Health Overhaul Case
The Justice Department asked a full federal appeals court Friday to take up a case that has endangered subsidies helping millions of low- and middle-income people to afford their health care premiums under ObamaCare. Last week, a divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said financial aid can be provided only in states that have set up their own insurance markets, or exchanges (8/1).

Bloomberg:  Obama Administration Seeks Review Of Health Care Aid Ruling
“The text, structure and purpose” of the overhaul “make clear that tax credits are available to consumers ‘regardless of whether the exchange on which they purchased their health insurance coverage is a creature of the state or the federal bureaucracy,’” government lawyers wrote in a request for a re-hearing, citing the dissent in the case. The request, filed today, was widely expected after a 2-1 ruling on July 22 that struck down an Internal Revenue Service rule providing subsidies for needy customers on the insurance exchange run by the federal government. Later today, the appeals court ordered the plaintiffs to file within 15 days a response to the government’s motion. Yesterday, the plaintiffs asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, saying a ruling by the high court would end uncertainty about the IRS provision (Zajac, 8/1).

NBC News: Obamacare Challengers Urge Quick U.S. Supreme Court Review
Challengers of a key provision of the Obama healthcare law Thursday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case and decide quickly whether people who buy their health insurance on state exchanges qualify for a federal subsidy. Two federal courts reached opposite conclusions on that issue last week. On Thursday, the challengers who lost asked the Supreme Court to step in (Williams, 8/1).

In other news related to health law challenges -

NBC News: This Is The Next Hobby Lobby
Laura Grieneisen and Liz Miller have a lot in common. Both are graduate students in biology at the University of Notre Dame ... Each wants to prevent pregnancy. Each was told by her doctor that her long stretches in the field would make her an excellent candidate for an intrauterine device, or the IUD. That’s where their paths diverged. ... But in what promises to be the next big birth control fight after Hobby Lobby, that accommodation hasn’t satisfied Notre Dame – or over 100 other nonprofit institutions suing the administration. They claim that signing the opt-out form also violates their religious liberty, because eventually, contraception is dispensed (Carmon, 7/31).

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: U.S. Senator Ron Johnson To Appeal Obamacare Lawsuit
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson says he will appeal a federal judge's dismissal of his lawsuit challenging a rule related to the way members of Congress and their staff get health insurance under Obamacare. Johnson, a Republican, said in an opinion piece for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — which will run in print Sunday — that he feels compelled "to exhaust every legal recourse" as he challenges President Barack Obama's executive actions. U.S. District Judge William Griesbach in Green Bay had ruled in July that Johnson and his aide, Brooke Ericson, didn't have legal standing to bring their lawsuit because they hadn't been injured (Richards, 8/2).

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