Recently, two U.S. Appeals Courts issued conflicting rulings on the legality of the Affordable Care Act's premium tax credits in the federally-run Marketplace, HealthCare.gov. According to a recent poll by the Morning Consult, although the public has not heard much about the lawsuits, they are generally in favor of the tax credits being available in every state.
Background on the Premium Tax Credit Lawsuits
There were 36 states who opted not to set up exchanges; the states defaulted to using the federal exchange. The legal issue lies within eligibility for the premium tax credits. The argument is that people in states using the federally-run exchange (HealthCare.gov), who received tax credits through the federal exchange, were not eligible to receive these credits.
The ACA includes a provision that states the premium tax credits are available to enrollees of “state-run exchanges.” Supporters of eligibility for premium tax credits on the federal exchange argue that this statement was a drafting error. Opponents of this issue argue the provision was intended to limit the premium tax credits to state-run exchanges.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. (Halbig v. Burwell) ruled the tax credits are illegal in all of the states that do not have state exchanges set up, while the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA (King v. Burwell) ruled in favor of the tax credits. The administration is appealing the Halbig v. Burwell decision in Washington D.C., and at this time there is no change to the availability of the premium tax credits.
For more background, see: Appeals Courts Split on Legality of ACA Premium Tax Subsidies
The Public’s View on the Premium Tax Credit Lawsuits
The Morning Consult published the results of a tracking poll they conducted with approximately 1,800 voters in light of the recent contradictory rulings regarding the legality of the premium tax credits.
Is the Public Aware of the Issue?
The survey questioned how much the pollees had heard about the legal challenge to the ACA premium tax credits available to individuals purchasing coverage from the federal exchange. A majority of those polled (58 percent) had not heard a lot about the issue.
14 percent had heard a lot about this
30 percent had heard some about this
29 percent had heard not much about this
28 percent had heard nothing at all about this
What Does the Public Think About the Law?
The survey asked pollees whether they thought the provision regarding the premium tax credits only being available through state-run marketplaces was a drafting error or whether it was written intentionally to limit the premium tax credits to state-run exchanges. A majority of those polled (54 percent) did not know enough about the issue to respond either way.
22 percent thought the provision was a drafting error
25 percent thought the provision was written intentionally
54 percent were unsure or had no opinion
Does the Public Think the Tax Credits Should Be Available to Everyone?
The survey asked pollees whether they thought people purchasing health insurance should have access to premium tax credits, regardless of whether it is a state or federally-run exchange. A majority of those polled (58 percent) thought the discounts should be available to everyone who qualifies for the premium tax credits, regardless of the type of exchange used.
58 percent thought that the credits should be available to everyone who qualifies
15 percent though that the credits should be available only on state-run exchanges
27 percent were unsure or had no opinion
All in all, the public seems largely unaware of the controversy surrounding this issue. However, it is clear that a majority of the public is in favor of the premium tax credits being available through both the state and federally-run marketplaces. These rulings will not have an immediate impact on premium tax credits; individuals receiving premium tax credits should be aware that the tax credits are still available.
What do you think of the premium tax credit lawsuits? Leave a comment.