The ship has sailed on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the treacherous waters of partisan legal cases haven’t sunk it yet. Tuesday the law weathered another storm.
On July 22, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit released a decision on Halbig v. Burwell, vacating a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that provides government subsidies to help pay the premiums for health insurance. Foes of Obamacare rejoiced.
A few hours later, in Richmond, Virginia, the Fourth Circuit released a decision in King v. Burwell, unanimously upholding the ACA subsidies.
“That was a short party, wasn’t it?” wrote Greg Sargent in the Washington Post.
The White House Press Secretary was quick to respond:
“Another partisan attempt to harm the Affordable Care Act failed today. This latest attempt (Halbig v. Burwell) was undermined by a unanimous judicial panel in the 4th Circuit (King v. Burwell). The law was designed to make health care affordable through tax credits– and it is working.”
The case is not Supreme Court bound according to an AP story. “Since (Halbig v. Burwell) 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.” Read the story here.
Iowa, along with six other states, established a State Partnership Marketplace, which provides insurance premium subsidies to some 24,485 eligible Iowans. Governor Branstad, an opponent of the ACA, is in no hurry to make the transition to the marketplace, which is required to be completed by 2015, after the midterms. The Des Moines Register explained the impact of the court rulings on Iowans in a July 22 article by Tony Leys.
Is Obamacare on the shoals? Not really. The administration is navigating the legal challenges to the unpopular law, and in the meanwhile, people who could not afford health care insurance without government subsidies can buy coverage. That’s part of what the law intended.
For those who bought policies through the exchange, there was a turbulent start, but it is clear sailing for now.