(WASHINGTON) — After a brief hiatus, the hot debate over the Affordable Care Act was renewed once again Tuesday because of two opposite verdicts on subsidies.
In the first decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the federal government cannot subsidize policies through federally run insurance exchanges.
Later, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia said that subsidies set up in dozens of states that didn’t set up marketplaces under the ACA are indeed legal.
While the conflicting decisions put the future of the health care law, called “Obamacare” by its detractors, into question, the 4.5 million people who qualified for subsidies are still eligible for benefits while the White House appeals the D.C. court ruling.
More than eight million Americans signed up for the ACA. Those who did so through state exchanges won’t be affected by either ruling.
Meanwhile, the law’s opponents seized on the first court’s decision as proof that the ACA will ultimately fail. House Speaker John Boehner said, “Today’s ruling is also further proof that President Obama’s health care law is completely unworkable. It cannot be fixed.”
However, proponents like Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel of the Constitutional Accountability Center, says the second ruling got it right, adding, “The available tax credits are essential to filling the Affordable Care Act’s primary goals of assuring widespread coverage in the health care market and that Congress was fully aware of this when drafting the bill.”
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Jim Acosta and Greg Clary, CNN
Joshua Berlinger, CNN