Provisions in Affordable Care Act in peril as court rulings conflict

In the latest string of lawsuits arising out of the Affordable Care Act, two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings on one of the Act’s major provisions — specifically, whether individuals can obtain tax credits for health coverage purchased on a federally established health insurance exchange. The Fourth Circuit ruled in favor of the tax credits while three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled against them. Employee benefits lawyer Brandon Long was interviewed by The Oklahoman about the rulings and what this potentially means for Oklahoma employers.

“If the decision issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is correct, then tax credits are not available to individuals enrolling in coverage through an exchanged established by the federal government,” said Long. “Thus, in states like Oklahoma where the federal government established the exchange, large employers couldn’t be subject to any employer-mandate penalties because such penalties depend on an individual receiving a tax credit. Similarly, an individual without coverage couldn’t be subject to the individual mandate for the same reason.”

Until this issue is completely resolved — either by the full court of the D.C. Circuit or by the U.S. Supreme Court — Long recommends that Oklahoma employers continue to comply with the employer mandate provision of the Affordable Cart Act and continue to develop strategies to offer those employees health coverage.