Opponents of the
The law requires every state to have an insurance-buying exchange for individuals and small businesses, but it gave state officials a choice: They could set up the exchange themselves, or they could leave that work to the federal government. The law also requires virtually all adult Americans to obtain coverage, starting this year, but provides subsidies on a sliding scale to lower-income earners who buy policies through a state exchange. Those who could afford a policy but don't buy one are subject to financial penalties, as will be many businesses if they don't provide affordable insurance to their full-time workers after this year.
On Tuesday, a federal appeals panel in Washington will hear Halbig v. Sebelius, a challenge to the IRS' ruling brought by four individuals and two businesses from states with federally run exchanges. The IRS' ruling hurts them, the individuals argue, because the subsidies enable them to afford insurance, thus making them subject to penalties if they refuse to sign up. Just pause for a moment and ponder the irony of that complaint. The businesses, meanwhile, argue that the ruling subjects them to penalties if they don't offer coverage to their workers.
The plaintiffs seized on a provision in the law that says subsidies should be calculated based on the cost of insurance purchased at "an exchange established by the state," asserting that this limits subsidies to those 16 states running their own exchanges. But as a lower court ruled in January, they ignore substantial evidence in the law that