TULSA - A federal appeals court has ruled government subsidies that helped millions of people purchase health insurance on HealthCare.gov illegal, a decision that could dismantle a major part of the Affordable Care Act.
In the 2-1 ruling, the judicial panel ruled that only subsidies granted people who bought insurance in exchange programs run by the states (or the District of Columbia) are legal.
Senior Circuit Judge Thomas Griffith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit wrote in his opinion that "We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance. At least until states that wish to can set up their own Exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal Exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly."
The majority opinion basically says the HealthCare.gov subsidies are illegal because the ACA doesn't explicitly allow a federal exchange to offer subsidized coverage, while it does for state-operated exchanges.
The Obam Administration has yet to announce that it will appeal, though that is all but certain.
The ruling does not immediately change the law, but the potential for a massive legal fallout definitely exists if it is upheld.