Update: Courts play 'ping-pong' with Obamacare subsidies

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
What this federal court ruling means to millions who could lose their health care
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Today's news that the Federal Court has "invalidated" a portion of the Affordable Health Care Act, known as 'Obamacare' has commenters on the internet reeling with delight. Unfortunately the blow is not to Obamacare - at least not exactly. What it means is millions of people could end up with no health care insurance in addition to crucial medications to treat serious illnesses. Now the courts seem to be playing 'ping-pong' with American lives.

What federal ruling means for millions of seniors, disabled

To me it's unbelievable that low income people - our seniors who worked all their lives - could possibly lose their health insurance subsidies as well as our Medicare disabled younger population.

That means they won't be able to afford their medications, hospitalizations would increase and people could die from complications - those with diabetes and other serious diseases including COPD.

With a subsidy insulin for diabetes costs approximately $6.60. Without a low income subsidy the price can be $35 to $45 a month - and it's the same with inhalers used for serious respiratory diseases. Many patients take more than one type of insulin and use more than one inhaler daily.

A blow to Americans

Yet the internet is rife with celebration that 'Obamacare" has suffered a blow.

Low income subsidies for health insurance have been in place for years - long before Obama. The exchange just made it easier for people to get extra financial assistance.

But before everyone starts shouting from the roof tops, there's something else you should know.

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The subsidies won't be available for those who sign up through the exchange. According to the Federal Court ruling:

"...the regulation provided that a taxpayer may receive a tax credit if he “is enrolled in one or more qualified health plans through an Exchange...the IRS defined as “an Exchange serving the individual market for qualified individuals . . . , regardless of whether the Exchange is established and operated by a State.

The issue is with the IRS who the Federal court says cannot give credit to taxpayers because the exchange was established by the federal government and the government is not a "State".

Some states refused to participate in the exchange and now that means some people are not eligible for affordable health insurance the court says.

The Federal Court is challenging the language of the Affordable Healthcare Act and recommending that the IRS rule of offering subsidies on the health insurance exchange be removed. Is the Federal Court ruling really a blow to Obamacare? Not really - it's "flim flam" - and I repeat - low-income subsidies have been around for many years. Now millions could lose their health care coverage because the court found a flaw in the so-called Obamacare lingo.

The court also says "...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." The intent, it would appear, is to prove the ACA language is ambiguous and nothing more.

You can also get your subsidy by applying for health insurance through an agent.

Here's how the health insurance marketplace currently works to help people obtain their tax credit:

The federal ruling is likely to be appealed and is more of a blow to American lives than to Obamacare. If you currently have a subsidized health insurance plan you should know nothing will happen immediately. The federal court ruling shows a total disregard for the health and well-being of those with low-income as well as their families who would most likely at least try to help incur the cost of medical care.

Update: On the same day the DC circuit court ruled low-income subsidies could not be given to people in states not participating in the health insurance marketplace, the the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Obamacare subsidies issued through the federal exchanges are legal.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Comments

"You can also get your subsidy by applying for health insurance through an agent." By law, only if the agent uses the exchange There is no advance on the tax credit, aka subsidy, if bought off exchange. CMS did pass a temporary edict that requires subsidy to be extended if there is a proven failure on the exchange that prevented enrollment on the exchange
Thank you John.