KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Federal Judge Upholds Health Law’s Subsidies

Critics of the overhaul argued that, as passed by Congress, the statutory language limited the use of subsidies to purchase health insurance only to consumers in states that are running their own online marketplaces -- not to those who are shopping for health plans on the federal exchange. The judge's ruling, which upholds a central element of the health law, is a victory for the Obama administration.

The New York Times: Federal Judge Upholds Health Care Subsidies
A federal judge rejected a legal challenge on Wednesday to a central part of President Obama’s health care law, ruling that millions of low- and moderate-income people could obtain health insurance subsidies regardless of whether they bought coverage through the federal insurance exchange or in marketplaces run by the states (Pear, 1/15).

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare Critics Lose Major Lawsuit
A federal judge Wednesday emphatically rejected a last-ditch challenge to President Obama’s healthcare law, ruling that the Affordable Care Act allows low-income Americans to get government subsidies to buy health coverage no matter what state they live in. Critics of the law argued that the statute, passed by Congress in 2010, limited these subsidies to consumers in states that operate their own insurance marketplaces. Only 14 states do that; the remaining 36 rely on the federal government to run their marketplaces, or exchanges (Levey, 1/15).

The Wall Street Journal: Judge Rejects Challenge To Health-Care Law Subsidies
A federal judge on Wednesday upheld the legality of subsidies at the core of the federal health-care law, turning aside one of the principal remaining court challenges to the law. The decision hands a victory to the Obama administration, which has been fighting in court to defend the Affordable Care Act since it passed in March 2010. The Supreme Court in June 2012 upheld the law's requirement for most Americans to carry health insurance or pay a tax penalty (Kendall, 1/15).

The Washington Post: Judge Upholds Health Law Subsidies
A federal judge in the District rejected a lawsuit Wednesday that would have gutted President Obama’s health-care law by preventing the government from giving out subsidies to people buying health insurance in dozens of states. The federal subsidies are critical to the law because they reduce monthly premiums, in some cases drastically, for the vast majority of people buying coverage on new online insurance marketplaces. Starting this year, most Americans must have health insurance or face a fine (Somashekhar, 1/15).

Politico: Obamacare Tax Credit Suit Rejected
The four individuals who brought the lawsuit, Halbig v. Sebelius, had argued that the IRS overstepped its legal authority by allowing federal-run exchanges to provide tax credits for people who purchase health insurance. They contended that the Affordable Care Act only allows for state-run exchanges to access such credits and that Congress purposefully designed the law that way to incentivize states to run their own insurance marketplaces (Millman, 1/15).

Reuters: U.S. Judge Upholds Subsidies Pivotal To Obamacare
A judge on Wednesday upheld subsidies at the heart of President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul, rejecting one of the main legal challenges to the policy by conservatives opposed to an expansion of the federal government. A ruling in favor of a lawsuit brought by individuals and businesses in Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia would have crippled the implementation of the law by making health insurance unaffordable for many people (Ingram, 1/15).

McClatchy: U.S. District Court Tosses Case Challenging Health Law Tax Credits
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Wednesday dismissed one of the last major legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act. The case, Halbig vs. Sebelius, argued that the health law only allows the federal government to provide premium tax credits - the subsidies that help low- and moderate-income people purchase health coverage - in states that use the federally run marketplace. That's because a section of the ACA says the tax credits can only be applied to coverage purchased "through an exchange established by the state (Pugh, 1/15). 

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