Two U.S. appeals courts issued opposing rulings on Obamacare subsidies Tuesday -- one in favor of the White House’s Affordable Care Act and the other against.
Obamacare took a hit early Tuesday afternoon when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that subsidies and tax credits could not be made available for people in states that use the federal marketplace, essentially making the Affordable Care Act unaffordable for over four million Americans. Just hours later, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia, ruled that subsidies would be allowed.
“The first thing I would say is, ‘Let’s take a moment to calm down,’” says George Kalogeropoulos, one of three creators of Health Sherpa, a leading Obamacare registration website. “We’ve had dozens of customers calling us panicked and worried that they’ll lose their subsidies. The answer is no, it’s still very early and there are still a lot of open questions about this.”
With these divergent rulings, it’s possible the case could make its way to the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, the process will take time and nothing, says Kalogeropoulos, will happen before the 2015 open enrollment period.
Kalogeropoulos even thinks that this might be good news for the rollout of Obamacare. “After seeing how healthcare.gov failed in the first phase, a lot of states are very gun-shy about opening their own exchanges,” he says. “This ruling could create a pathway for the states that don’t have their own exchanges to build partnership exchanges where they piggyback on the government's technology but have their own in-state exchange infrastructure.”