- The DC Circuit Court has put the Halbig v. Burwell case on hold until the Supreme Court rules on sister case King v. Burwell. Both cases deal with whether or not enrollees in the 36 states taking part in the federal insurance exchange are eligible for premium subsidies.
- In July, the DC court ruled that the Affordable Care Act clearly stated subsidies were only allowed in states that had established their own exchanges—the opposite decision from the Virginia 4th Circuit of Appeals' decision in King v. Burwell. The Halbig decision was vacated in September and was set to be heard by the circuit court in an en banc review. The Supreme Court announced Friday that it would take up King v. Burwell.
- Halbig v. Burwell has been removed from the DC Circuit Court's oral argument calendar on December 17 and according to the court order, "The parties are directed to file motions to govern future proceedings within 30 days of the date of the Supreme Court's decision in King v. Burwell.
The ramifications for the Affordable Care Act, if the case is decided in favor of the plaintiffs, are huge. Approximately 5 million people are signed up for the subsidies, with discounts averaging about 75% of the face value of their premiums, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. These people may find insurance too expensive to purchase without the subsidies. And because the employer mandate applies only if employees receive federal tax credits, employers would be able to drop coverage without paying a penalty in the 36 states using the federal exchange.
"But insurers would still be required to cover individuals regardless of preexisting conditions," Tim Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA, wrote in a July 9 op-ed piece in The Washington Post. "Without the tax credits and mandates, insurance premiums would go through the roof and the entire individual insurance market could collapse in many states."
Should states want to build their own ACA insurance exchanges, the deadline to apply for federal money is Friday, November 14.