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Two appeals courts duke it out over use of tax credits for healthcare coverage

The Supreme Court may eventually be pressed to resolve dispute.
The Supreme Court may eventually be pressed to resolve dispute.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

It looks as though the next round of arguments over Obamacare will soon be heading back to the Supreme Court after two separate appellate courts came to different conclusions regarding 4 words in the 900 page law about whether millions of consumers in as many as 36 states will be eligible to receive tax credits to assist them in purchasing health coverage available through the federal marketplace.

While a three judge panel in Washington DC reached a 2-1 decision stating that the “plain language of the law states that financial aid to help millions of people with low to middle-class incomes is only available in states that set up their own health insurance exchanges,” a separate ruling by the 4th Circuit Court in Richmond, VA concluded that the language of the law was “confusing and that the IRS (reasonably) interpreted Congress’s will as declaring the tax credits equally valid in states where the insurance markets are being administered by the federal government.

In the meantime the Obama administration is looking to avoid the need to bring the measure before the Supreme Court by requesting that the entire 11-members of the court of appeals hear the case, rather than just leaving it to the interpretation of just three judges. Supporters of the Affordable Heathcare Act in both federal and state levels have accused opponents of “failing to consider the wording of the statute in its entirety.”

In fact, White House spokesman Josh Earnest stated that billions of dollars will continue to be provided to help millions of Americans pay for their premiums as the Presidential team looks reverse the negative interpretation. Although members of Congress could solve the problem by clarifying their intentions, it is unlikely that would ever happen as members of the Republican and Tea Parties continue to fight to have the ACA repealed, and their Democrat counterparts across the aisle continue to dig in their heels to save it.