The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to hear another case challenging the nation's new healthcare law. The court on Monday denied hearing in Oklahoma, ex rel. E. Scott Pruitt v. Burwell, a case that argues the same point as King v. Burwell, a widely watched case the court will hear in March.
Both cases center on the question of whether the language of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allows consumers to receive insurance premium subsidies in states that have not established their own exchanges and are instead relying on HealthCare.gov.
One part of the law says subsidies are available only to those who enroll through an “exchange established by the state.” The federal government, however, argues that the law's purpose is clear in allowing Americans in every state to be eligible for subsidies and that other parts of the law indicate that. The IRS has been interpreting the law to mean Americans in all states should be allowed subsidies.
In the Oklahoma case, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma ruled in favor of the state in September 2014, finding that the language of the law is clear in limiting subsidies to individuals in states with their own exchanges. The district court ruled that the IRS's interpretation of the law is “arbitrary” and “capricious.”
The federal government appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, but Oklahoma sought to skip that step, asking the Supreme Court to hear the case with King v. Burwell.
Oklahoma's lawyers argued that their case should be heard because, unlike in King v. Burwell, it would bring the perspective of a state that's also a large employer into the discussion.
“Resolution of the question presented in King should not occur in the absence of a sovereign State, particularly a sovereign State that also happens to be a large employer made subject to the large employer mandate by the challenged regulations,” Oklahoma's lawyers wrote in their petition to the Supreme Court.
The court is scheduled to hear King v. Burwell on March 4. It's a case with the potential to shake the law's overall viability.
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