Will the Supreme Court Keep the Affordable Care Act’s Subsidies In Place?

December 1, 2014
“Bill to Restrict N.S.A. Data Collection Blocked in Vote by Senate Republicans”
December 1, 2014

Will the Supreme Court Keep the Affordable Care Act’s Subsidies In Place?


The Supreme Court granted certiorari to hear King v. Burwellthis past Friday, November 7, 2014.

First of all, what is certiorari…A writ of certiorari is an order from a higher court to a lower court granting review of a lower court’s decision.

The sole issue to be decided in this case is: Whether the Internal Revenue Service may extend tax-credit subsidies to health insurance coverage purchased through the federal government (rather than individual states) under the Affordable Care Act Section 1401.

Section 1401 authorizes subsidies for people whose household income falls between 100 and 400% of the federal poverty level, who are not eligible for qualified employer coverage or other government programs, and who enroll in coverage “through an Exchange established by the State.” (emphasis added).

Louisiana is one of the states that refused to implement the Affordable Care Act.  However, thousands of our state’s citizens have gained health insurance via the federally run exchange.Those Louisianians have received the federal tax credits designated for supporting heath insurance premium payment.

Will that financial support for health insurance end?

We wrote months ago about the two appellate court cases, which were both published July 22, 2014, that had polar opposite holdings upon the Health Care Premium Subsidies Section of the Affordable Care Act.

In  Halbig v. Burwell, the D.C. Circuit Court found that the clear language of the ACA only allows the health care premium subsidies for state-run health care exchanges, i.e, so residents in Louisiana and 35 other states would not be eligible for the subsidies.

 In King v. Burwell, the Federal 4th Circuit Court held that that the applicable statutory language is ambiguous and subject to multiple interpretations and upheld the IRS’s rule.

So the two cases came to two entirely different conclusions about a specific portion of the act’s language: Halbig: ACA is clear; King: ACA is ambiguous.

If the Supreme Court decides that citizens who live in Republican controlled states, that refused to support access to health insurance,  can’t receive premium support, it will negatively impact the millions of Americans who have recently secured health insurance, many for the first time.

​One has to wonder, why would anyone be against people having health insurance? Shouldn’t everyone “have some skin in the game” and free riders be required to purchase health insurance?

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