- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A federal appeals court has decided to hold off on a pivotal case brought by Obamacare opponents because the Supreme Court has decided to hear another challenge that addresses the same issue.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit released a one-page order Wednesday that canceled oral arguments set for Dec. 17 and delayed any more proceedings until the justices make a ruling in their current term, which ends in June.

Appellants who brought the suits say the Obama administration used IRS regulations to illegally extended the Affordable Care Act’s income-based subsidies to residents in all the states. At issue is a phrase in the law itself that says financial assistance should go to people who use exchanges “established by the state.”

Challengers say that means the exchanges established by 14 states and the District, so three dozen states are not entitled to the subsidies. They said the administration is poised to spend billions of dollars without authorization from Congress.

But the administration and Democratic framers of the law say the challenge is unfounded and they intended to treat all states the same.

They said the Health and Human Services secretary stands in the shoes of states that refuse to set up their own exchange, effectively creating state-based exchanges for them.

Without the subsidies, they say, many customers on the federally-run exchange would no longer be able to afford their coverage, undermining the intent of the law.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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