Appeals Court Panels Issue Split Decision On The Affordable Care Act

Source: Richard Wolf / USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court dealt a potentially major blow to President Obama’s health care law Tuesday, ruling that participants in health exchanges run by the federal government in 34 states are not eligible for billions of dollars in tax subsidies.

The 2-1 ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which will be appealed by the government, threatens the framework of the health care system for about 5 million Americans without employer-provided health plans.

Just two hours after that ruling, a separate federal appeals court panel in Richmond unanimously upheld the law and its system of subsidies and tax credits, putting it in opposition to the D.C. appeals court. That could raise the potential of a Supreme Court showdown.

“If there is a split in the circuits, then I think the Supreme Court would have to step in,” said Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel at the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center.

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