The Affordable Care Act: Conflicting court rulings

Courts issue conflicting rulings on the Affordable Care Act
Courts issue conflicting rulings on the Affordable Care Act

I am sure you have read by now that two different courts had two different rulings concerning the Affordable Care Act. Naturally proponents for both sides claimed that their point of view will prevail. One thing is clear is that the outcome is not clear and will undoubtedly be decided by the US Supreme Court.
Basis of the decisions
According to the attorneys writing for JD SupraThe decisions turned on readings of the relevant statutory language and application of a test derived from the 1984 Supreme Court case, Chevron U.S.A. v. NRDC.  The Chevron test is used to assess whether agency action, here the IRS, is within the scope of the agency’s authorization, here the ACA. The Chevron test has two prongs:

  • First, has Congress directly spoken to the precise question at issue?  If Congress’ intent is clear, the court and the agency must give effect to that unambiguously expressed intent.
  • Second, if the statute is silent or ambiguous, is the agency’s action based on a permissible construction of the statute?”

The court that had a negative decision for the ACA, the D.C. Circuit relied on the first prong and said the IRS cannot provide tax credits. The court in the Fourth Circuit relied on the second prong and presumed the action was valid.
Rather than me making a legal argument I am going to refer you to many of the newsletters I received that discuss these decisions. Ultimately we will be waiting for the Supreme Court.
The Future of Premium Subsidies under the Affordable Care Act: ‘Halbig v. Burwell’ and ‘King v. Burwell’
Federal Courts Issue Conflicting Decisions on Affordable Care Act Subsidies
Federal Court Invalidates Key Component of the ACA
ACA subsidies on federal exchange overturned
4th Circuit upholds ACA insurance subsidies

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