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Federal court rules for government in ACA subsidies case

January 24, 2014

A federal district court in Washington, D.C., recently rejected a lawsuit challenging the availability of premium subsidies to lower-income Americans in some 35 states under the “Affordable Care Act” (ACA).

The plaintiffs in Halbig v. Sebelius argued that the wording of the ACA’s subsidy provision authorizes the federal government to provide premium subsidies only in states that set up their own insurance exchanges.

The district court has now rejected that argument and concluded that subsidies are available nationwide. It wrote that
the ACA contains “various provisions . . . that appear to reflect an intent by Congress to make tax credits available to taxpayers” in every state, not just those with state-run exchanges.

And it observed that plaintiffs’ proposed reading of the statute “runs counter to this central
purpose of the ACA: to provide affordable health care to virtually all Americans.”

The AHA filed a friend-ofthe- court brief supporting the government in the case, in which it made the statutory purpose argument that the district court today accepted. For more on the brief, click on:
http://tinyurl.com/qffysj4.