WASHINGTON — Two federal appeals court panels issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on whether the government could subsidize health insurance premiums for people in three dozen states that use the federal insurance exchange. The decisions are the latest in a series of legal challenges to central components of President Barack Obama’s health care law.
The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals, in Richmond, Virginia, upheld the subsidies, saying that a rule issued by the Internal Revenue Service was “a permissible exercise of the agency’s discretion.”
The ruling came within hours of a 2-to-1 ruling by a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which said that the government could not subsidize insurance for people in states that use the federal exchange.
That decision could cut potentially off financial assistance for more than 4.5 million people who were found eligible for subsidized insurance in the federal exchange, or marketplace.
Under the Affordable Care Act, the appeals court here said, subsidies are available only to people who obtained insurance through exchanges established by states.
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