The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit won't hear oral arguments in Halbig v. Burwell as scheduled next month in light of the Supreme Court's decision to review the matter at issue: whether millions of Americans will continue to get subsidies if their state relies on HHS to run its insurance exchange.
Arguments were scheduled for Dec. 17 for the full court to hear the case, but the judges will instead wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on another case, King v. Burwell, challenging the legality of insurance premium subsidies for people who enrolled in coverage through an exchange run by the federal government under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
“The parties are directed to file motions to govern proceedings within 30 days of the date of the Supreme Court's decision in King V. Burwell,” according to the D.C. Circuit's order issued Wednesday.
The plaintiffs in the case—who argue the law calls for subsidies only in state-run exchanges—asked the D.C. Circuit on Monday to put the case aside for now.
“Simply put, there is no reason to consume the substantial resources associated with en banc rehearing when the Supreme Court is poised to decide the same issue on virtually the same timeline,” lawyer Michael Carvin argued in a motion filed Monday. The court apparently agreed.
Legal experts were divided on whether the D.C. Circuit would go ahead with oral arguments in light of the Supreme Court's decision to hear King.
Follow John N. Frank on Twitter: @MHJFrank