The plaintiffs who lost a recent lawsuit trying to prevent the federal government from providing tax credits to purchase health insurance on federal exchanges have filed for an expedited appeal in the case.

A federal district court judge ruled in favor of the federal government Wednesday in a lawsuit that claimed the Internal Revenue Service did not have the authority under the Affordable Care Act to write rules providing tax credits to individuals purchasing insurance on the health insurance exchange set up by the federal government. The plaintiffs in the case, Jacqueline Halbig et al v. Kathleen Sebelius et al, filed for an extradited appeal Friday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. One of the plaintiffs in the case is the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative advocacy organization.

“As this motion for a speedy appeal makes clear, there are compelling reasons for the appeals court act to quickly, because people are making their health insurance plans and billions of taxpayer dollars are now being spent each month in insurance subsidies for policies purchased through federal exchanges,” said Competitive Enterprise Institute general counsel Sam Kazman in a statement. “This massive expenditure runs counter to what the district court itself admitted was ‘the plain meaning’ of the key provision in the Obamacare statute. And just as that court accelerated its handling of the case, the appeals court should similarly expedite this appeal.”

At issue in this case is the IRS regulation extending the law’s premium subsidies and employer mandate to the 36 states that decided not to set up their own insurance exchanges. In Wednesday’s ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman rejected the plaintiffs’ argument but acknowledged it was supported by a section of the statute. Judge Friedman based his reasoning on the view that Congress’s broad goal was reducing health insurance costs.

“In sum, the Court finds that the plain text of the statute, the statutory structure, and the statutory purpose make clear that Congress intended to make premium tax credits available on both state-run and federally-facilitated exchanges,” wrote U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman. “What little relevant legislative history exists further supports this conclusion and certainly—despite plaintiffs’ best efforts to suggest otherwise—it does not undermine it.”

Michael A. Carvin of Jones Day is lead counsel in the case. The Competitive Enterprise Institute is assisting in the lawsuit’s coordination and funding.


Cohn writes for Accounting Today, a SourceMedia publication.

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