Judge Dismisses Halbig Case


By Hadley Heath

Today U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman threw out the Halbig v. Sebelius case that challenged subsidies flowing through the federally-established exchange(s). 

The Plaintiffs argued that the text of the Affordable Care Act only authorized subsidies through exchanges that states elected to establish. These exchanges derive their authority from one section of the law (Section 1311) while federally-established exchanges (the default if a state elects not to create its own) are authorized in another section (Section 1321).  The Plaintiffs also suggested that this was intentional: Congress wanted to incentivize states to create their own exchanges, and these subsidies were the carrot.

Judge Friedman disagreed. He was quoted in The Hill today:

"The plain text of the statute, the statutory structure, and the statutory purpose make clear that Congress intended to make premium tax credits available on both state-run and federally-facilitated Exchanges."

This is certainly a setback for the law's challengers, but not the end of the road. There are other lawsuits in other districts that challenge these subsidies, and lead attorney for Halbig has already promised to appeal this decision.

Read more here. 




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