An audience member wears an Oklahoma Health Care Authority shirt during an OHCA board meeting in Oklahoma City, July 1, 2014.
Photot by Sue Ogrocki/AP

Oklahoma federal judge rules against Obamacare subsidies

A federal judge in Oklahoma ruled that those receiving Obamacare through the federal insurance exchange aren’t eligible for subsidies for their health-care coverage. 

The Affordable Care Act explicitly states that those who purchase insurance on “an exchange established by the State” are eligible for subsidies for their coverage, but challengers say that language does not include those covered by Obamacare’s federal exchange. 

“On this particular precise question, case law does not provide wiggle room for finding ambiguity. This is because tax credits must be expressed in clear and unambiguous language,” said federal judge Ronald White of Muskogee, Oklahoma. States can set up their own Obamacare exchanges, and the federal exchange kicks in for those who do not. 

White’s ruling comes on the heels of two separate decisions made by federal appeals courts in July: The D.C. Circuit Court agreed with White that the subsidies are illegal, while the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, upheld the Internal Revenue Service rule allowing those on the federal exchange to access the subsidies. 

The full DC appeals court recently agreed to hear the case, throwing out the D.C. Circuit Court’s ruling. The Supreme Court has not said whether it would take up the case.