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Supreme Court Won't Hear Obamacare Subsidy Case for Now

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear King v. Burwell, an appeal that seeks to prevent people in the 36 states using the federal insurance exchange from obtaining tax subsidies under Obamacare...
November 4, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear King v. Burwell, an appeal that seeks to prevent people in the 36 states using the federal insurance exchange from obtaining tax subsidies under Obamacare.

The case centers on a provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) indicating that people qualify for tax credits when they purchase coverage through an online marketplace "established by state." An Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rule says consumers can claim the tax credits regardless of where they live, which the Obama administration insists is consistent with the goal of the law to provide affordable health coverage to all Americans.

King v. Burwell could be scheduled for discussion at a future conference of the justices, at which point they could again consider taking it. Experts say a decision against the Obama administration would have far-reaching effects, possibly destabilizing insurance markets nationwide.

The high court may not be eager to get involved, said Theodore Ruger, a health-law professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. The justices endured a divisive clash in 2012, punctuated by reports that Chief Justice John Roberts switched sides late in the court's deliberations to provide the decisive vote to uphold most of the law. "The justices don't want another major ACA case anytime in the near future," Ruger said. "I just think this is not an issue they want to re-litigate."

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