The Federal Circuit said federally-run state insurance exchanges were not eligible to provide subsidies to qualifying middle- and low-income consumers. Hours later, the 4th Circuit issued the opposite ruling, saying the subsidies were legal under the Affordable Care Act. So which appeals court will have their way? If a group of Virginia residents have a say, the answer may come in the form of a Supreme Court ruling.
Just nine days after the 4th Circuit made their ruling, a group of Virginia residents opposed to the subsidies, filed a petition with the Supreme Court to get the case heard. Those filing the petition are seeking to move quickly to get the case resolved.
“From the time these cases were first filed, we've tried to get this issue resolved as quickly as possible for the plaintiffs and the millions of individuals like them,” said Sam Kazman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute to the Wall Street Journal. The Competitive Enterprise Group is coordinating and funding some of the lawsuits challenging the subsidies.
On the other hand, those in favor of the 4th Circuit’s decision — and against the Federal Circuit’s decision — are taking a different track. According to the Department of Justice, the Obama administration is expected to ask the entire Federal Circuit to reconsider its decision, rather than taking the case to the Supreme Court. This request could come as early as August 1.
This issue has mostly been split down party lines, which could explain for some of the differences in strategy. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian group, may want this case before a conservative Supreme Court as quickly as possible. The Obama administration, meanwhile, seems to favor taking an extra step and possibly delaying a Supreme Court decision on the case.
The Supreme Court is currently on summer break and will not begin hearing arguments until October 6. Thus, it is unlikely that a final ruling will be in place before open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act is scheduled to begin on November 15.