Lawyers argue O-Care case should go straight to Supreme Court

Lawyers arguing ObamaCare subsidies should only be granted to states that have created their own health exchanges say they should be allowed to appeal their case directly to the Supreme Court.

Plaintiffs in the Halbig v. Burwell case are suing the federal government over an IRS rule that allows the federal government to give subsidies to all health exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

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While they recently won the case in the D.C. Circuit Court, the government has asked for a rehearing before it can be appealed at the Supreme Court.

In a submission filed Monday to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the business groups, individuals and states backing the case said continued “uncertainty” about the rule was “simply not tenable.

“Only the Supreme Court can lift that doubt by giving a definitive answer to the challenge raised here,” the submission said.

The plaintiffs argue a strict reading of the healthcare law only allows federal subsidies to be used to offset the cost of healthcare premiums on an exchange run by a state. The administration argues that is an overly narrow reading of the law.

If the rule is deemed invalid, subsidies cannot be distributed through the HealthCare.gov federal exchange, which now serves 5 million people in 34 states.

In a recent 2-1 ruling, the D.C. Circuit Court sided with the plaintiffs, but a few hours later in an identical case, King v. Burwell, a Virginia court ruled with the government.

The King ruling has already been challenged by the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court and earlier this month the Justice Department requested an “en banc” hearing where all the judges on the D.C. Circuit Court can rehear the Halbig case.

Sam Kazman, general counsel with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is funding both cases, says the Halbig case should be fast-tracked to the Supreme Court.

“Since filing both the Halbig and King v. Burwell cases, we have tried to move them forward as quickly as possible,” he said. “We submit the D.C. Circuit should either deny the government’s request for en banc reconsideration or else delay acting on that request until the Supreme Court decides on whether to review the King case.”