Thursday, January 29, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Dueling rulings: Courts split on health law clash

By
From page A1 | July 23, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s health care law is snarled in another big legal battle, with two federal appeals courts issuing contradictory rulings on a key financing issue within hours of each other Tuesday.

But the split rulings don’t necessarily mean another trip to the Supreme Court for the Affordable Care Act.

And White House spokesman Josh Earnest immediately announced that millions of consumers will keep getting financial aid for their premiums — billions of dollars in all — as the administration appeals the one adverse decision.

In that first ruling, a divided three-judge panel in Washington called into question the subsidies that help millions of low- and middle-income people afford their premiums, saying financial aid can be provided only in states that have set up their own insurance markets, or exchanges.

About 100 miles to the south in Richmond, Virginia, another appeals court panel unanimously came to the opposite conclusion, ruling that the Internal Revenue Service correctly interpreted the will of Congress when it issued regulations allowing health insurance tax credits for consumers in all 50 states.

Split appeals court decisions are a classic route to the Supreme Court. But in this situation, it’s far from clear what will happen because the administration still has a legal card to play.

Since the Washington case was decided by a three-judge panel, the administration will ask the full 11-member appeals court to hear the case. The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has seven judges appointed by Democratic presidents, including four by Obama.

If the full court comes out in favor of the administration, the prospect of Supreme Court involvement would be greatly diminished. On the other hand, if the full Washington court stays out of it or, after a hearing, essentially leaves the panel’s decision in place, then the Supreme Court would almost certainly weigh in.

Democratic appointees also constitute a majority of the full appeals court in Richmond.

Both cases are part of a long-running political and legal campaign to overturn Obama’s signature domestic legislation by Republicans and other opponents of the law.

In the Washington case, Halbig v. Burwell, a group of small business owners argued that the law authorizes subsidies only for people who buy insurance through markets established by the states — not by the federal government.

That’s no mere technical distinction, since the federal government is running the markets, or exchanges, in 36 states.

The Washington court agreed with that objection, in a 2-1 decision that could mean hefty premium increases for more than half the 8 million Americans who have purchased taxpayer-subsidized private insurance under the law.

For those federal exchange consumers, it would result in an average premium increase of 76 percent. Customers now pay $82 on average on total monthly premiums averaging $346. The federal subsidy of $264 a month makes up the rest of the premium.

Two judges appointed by Republican presidents voted against the administration’s interpretation of the law while one appointed by a Democratic president dissented.

The majority opinion concluded that the law, as written, “unambiguously” restricts subsides to consumers in exchanges established by states. That would invalidate an IRS regulation that tried to sort out confusing wording in the law by concluding that Congress intended for consumers in all 50 states to have subsidized coverage.

“At least until states that wish to can set up exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for the millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly,” wrote Judge Thomas Griffith.

“But, high as those stakes are, the principle of legislative supremacy that guides us is higher still,” he added.

Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce said the Washington court got it wrong.

“We believe that this decision is incorrect, inconsistent with congressional intent … and at odds with the goal of the law: to make health care affordable no matter where people live,” Pierce said in a statement.

In Richmond, the three-judge 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel was unanimous in its decision upholding the law’s financing. That court said the IRS did a reasonable job of interpreting legal language that is “ambiguous and subject to multiple interpretations.”

In a concurring opinion, Judge Andre Davis used pizza as an analogy. He wondered what would happen if he were to ask a friend for ham and pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut, adding that Domino’s would be fine as well. If the friend came back with Domino’s, that would fulfill his request, he wrote.

The seemingly arcane issue could be crucial to the success of the health law because most states have been unable or unwilling to set up their own exchanges. The inaction stems in many instances from opposition by Republican governors to the Affordable Care Act.

It all revolves around four words in the 900-page law, which says tax credits to help pay premiums are available to people who enroll through an exchange “established by the state.”

The challengers to the law say a literal reading of that language invalidates the IRS subsidy to people in the federal exchanges.

The Obama administration and congressional and state legislative supporters of the Affordable Care Act say the challengers are failing to consider the words of the statute in its entirety.

The Supreme Court has considered several challenges to the health care law, most recently ruling that some private companies don’t have to cover birth control if it offends religious scruples. The biggest ruling came in 2012, when a divided court let stand the law’s core requirement that most Americans carry health insurance or face fines.

The Richmond case is King v. Burwell.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
1st release for birds with mysterious goo a success

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Church makes ready for health, wellness fair

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
4-H Annual Presentation Day returns in February

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Vacaville SWAT team serves search warrant

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3

 
Real estate occupancy continues to climb

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3

 
Lights out for proposed electronic sign in Vacaville

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

Council backs beer, wine sales for Vacaville store

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
Vacaville police seek help to find sex offender

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Sweep by sheriff’s team nets 4 arrests

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3, 3 Comments

 
Travis starts work on Functional Fitness Center

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
Boy Scouts to screen award-winning film

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
Fairfield police log: Jan. 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
Suisun City police log: Jan. 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

.

US / World

Air Force probing alleged ‘treason’ remark by general

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Poll: High approval for Gov. Jerry Brown, support for budget

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Expect tiny tuxes but no real puppy love at doggy weddings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Large salmon release planned

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Violations mount for toxic recycler

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Quake rattles N. California coast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Second arrest in student stabbing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Marshals track down missing treasure hunter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

‘Drunk’ excuse falls flat in Vandy rape trial

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Attorney General nominee defends Obama immigration changes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

Police seek law to alter Google app

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Chinese regulators go after online sale of fake goods

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Investigation stems from police-involved shooting outbreak

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Hezbollah missiles kill soldiers

By New York Times | From Page: A6

ISIS extends hostage deadline

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Euro coast guards scramble to locate Syrian ghost ship

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Tape: Scientist offers to build nuke bomb targeting New York

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
.

Opinion

India now has 322 billion reasons to fix economy

By William Pesek | From Page: A7

 
Don’t brush off bullying

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
Editorial Cartoon: Jan. 29, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Just be honest and come forward

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
A truly misinformed writer

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7, 5 Comments

.

Living

Today in History: Jan. 29, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Jan. 29, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Deadbeat boyfriend ruined my relationship with my granddaughter

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscope Jan. 29, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Theater legend Joel Grey reveals that he is gay

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5, 1 Comment

 
Super Bowl advertisers aim not to offend

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Sports

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins hoping to make All-Star team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Rodriguez wrestlers pull out 34-24 win over Wood

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Tony Stewart acquires national sprint car series tour

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Solano men cruise past LMC for biggest win of season

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
NFL players who started young show more thinking problems

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

GM John Schneider has been architect of Seahawks’ success

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Patriots not dwelling on last Super Bowl loss in Arizona

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Woods returns to Phoenix with plenty of memories

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Korda, Lewis, Munoz tied for lead at LPGA season opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Head of NCAA enforcement: Academic misconduct on rise

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Chicago Cubs’ Ernie Banks statue moved downtown for tribute

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Kobe Bryant has surgery, expected to be out for 9 months

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
This date in sports history for Jan. 29, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Joseph Phillip Raiff

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Dzhon Athanc

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 

Parse error: syntax error, unexpected '<<' (T_SL) in /www/newspaperfoundation.org/html/wp-content/themes/broadsheet/footer.php on line 101