Fourth Circuit Upholds Obamcare — Provides Crucial Split

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the IRS interpretation of Obamacare today in its decision in King v. Burwell.  The decision supports the Administration’s view that it can provide heath insurance subsidies even in states that have elected not to establish state health insurance exchanges.

King v. Burwell  is a parallel case to a similar case filed in the D.C. Circuit, Halbig v. Burwell.  In Halbig, a three-judge panel reached the contrary result, ruling that the IRS interpretation was contrary to the plain meaning of the statute.

Today’s decision in King is good news since it provides an immediate means by which to appeal the entire controversy to the Supreme Court.  King is especially important given the government’s announced intention to ask the full D.C. Circuit to review the favorable three-judge panel decision in Halbig. Given the Obama Administration’s successful effort to appoint several friendly judges to the D.C. Circuit, it is quite possible that the full D.C. Circuit will reverse the panel decision.

CIR filed an amicus brief in Halbig, arguing that the Obama Administration’s interpretation of the statute is not supported by the plain language of the state or by legislative history.  And CIR will soon file a similar brief in King urging the Supreme Court to promptly review the case.