IRS Loophole, Legal Challenges Imperiling Affordable Care Act
If computer glitches are not enough of a problem, President
The Affordable Care Act proposes to make health insurance affordable to millions of low-income Americans by offering them tax credits to help cover the cost. To receive the credit, the law twice says they must buy insurance "through an exchange established by the state."
But 36 states have decided against opening exchanges for now. Although the law permits the federal government to open exchanges instead, it does not say tax credits may be given to those who buy insurance through a federally run exchange.
Apparently no one noticed this when the long and complicated bill worked its way through the
But critics of the law have seized on the glitch. They have filed four lawsuits that urge judges to rule the Obama administration must abide by the strict wording of the law, even if doing so dismantles it in nearly two-thirds of the states. And the Obama administration has no hope of repairing the glitch by legislation as long as the Republicans control the House.
This week, U.S. District Judge
"This is a problem," said
"This is a question of whether you believe in the rule of law. And the language here is as clear as it could possibly be," he said.
Last year, Carvin went before the
The states have now split evenly, as 25 of them have opted to take the extra money from
The new lawsuits take aim at the parts of the law that offer subsidies to those who are above the poverty level but still may struggle to pay for insurance. A single person with an income up to
"My jaw dropped when I first saw this," said
"This has the potential to sink Obamacare. It could make the current website problems seem minor by comparison," Cannon said.
Defenders of the law say the courts are being used as part of the political campaign against the law.
"This is definitely heating up. It is now the major focus of the Republican strategy for undoing the Affordable Care Act," said
No judge has ruled directly on the claim that the
If any of the four judges agree with the challengers, they are likely to be asked to put the law on hold until the legal dispute is resolved. And that could quickly send the issue to a U.S. appeals court and then to the
"They are betting on getting five votes at the
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