A pair of conflicting appeals court rulings about the Affordable Care Act issued Tuesday will not impact Kentucky's implementation of the federal overhaul, state officials told WFPL.
At issue is whether the health care law allows the Obama administration to provide federal subsidies to make health insurance more affordable to those buying private plans through federally run exchanges, or only through state marketplaces.
In a 2-to-1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said subsidies could only be provided to individuals who purchased insurance through state created exchanges.
Hours later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., ruled in the opposite direction.
That panel said the president’s health care law allows the federal government to continue providing subsidies for both types of exchanges.
The dueling decisions strike a key part of the health care law and could jeopardize financial assistance for millions of Americans those who have signed up.
"Congress clearly intended for the law to help Americans purchasing health insurance in the new marketplaces regardless of whether the federal government or a state was operating the exchange,” said Democratic U.S. Congressman John Yarmuth, who voted for the law four years ago.
"If that remains in question once the legal process is exhausted, then Congress will have the opportunity to ensure millions of Americans can keep the affordable, quality health insurance they’ve gained under the law."
State officials told WFPL the D.C. Circuit does not affect Kentucky residents because KyNect was setup as a state-based exchange.
"Today’s rulings by the federal courts regarding health insurance premiums have no effect on KyNect enrollees or the premium assistance for which they have qualified," Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, said in a released statement.
During the initial enrollment period over 82,000 Kentuckians qualified for nearly $65 million in premium assistance.
The average premium for an individual was about $335 per month without any federal tax credits, according to KyNect officials. But as LEO Weekly's Joe Sonka first reported, federal assistance reduced those premium costs by 74 percent to an average $88.40 cost for a policy.
"The confusion evidenced in today’s rulings reaffirms that Kentucky made the right decision by fully implementing the ACA, including creating a state-based exchange instead of defaulting to the federal exchange,” said Beshear.
Since last October, around 413,000 Kentuckians have obtained health insurance through the state portal.
A spokesman for Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, who is a fierce opponent of the law, said Tuesday's rulings are "just the latest reminders about what a mess Obamacare is."