WASHINGTON—The National Health Law Program (NHeLP) issued the following statement reacting to the granting of en banc review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Halbig v. Burwell. In July, the same court ruled in a split 2-1 decision that the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) tax credits were only available to persons in state-run Marketplaces. Today’s order vacates that decision and means the case will come before the full 11 judge panel of the D.C. Circuit.
“We welcome the Court’s grant of en banc review,” said Elizabeth G. Taylor, NHeLP executive director. “This case was brought for purely political reasons, with the clear motivation of gutting the ACA. The Court in Halbig now has the opportunity to interpret the statute based on the full text, consistent with Congress’ intent, just as the Fourth Circuit did.”
Shortly after the D.C. Circuit Court ruled against the ACA’s tax provisions in July, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a unanimous opinion upholding the same tax credits in King v. Burwell. The Fourth Circuit’s decision is viewed as properly in line with the ACA’s text and purpose of making health coverage more affordable and accessible.
“Halbig has been nothing more than a manufactured crisis and one the D.C. Circuit Court must end by holding that the ACA’s tax credits are available to all, nation-wide, just as Congress intended.”
Oral arguments are scheduled for Dec. 17, 2014.