Virginia files amicus brief in King v. Sebelius

mark herringAttorney General Mark R. Herring has filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the case of King v. Sebelius, which is currently on appeal before the fourth circuit.  At stake in the case is whether low- and moderate-income Virginians who purchase insurance on the federal healthcare exchange are eligible for thousands of dollars in tax credits to help them afford healthcare coverage. According to estimates from the Department of Health and Human Services, up to 495,000 Virginians may be eligible for some level of tax credit, averaging $2,900 per year, and totaling up to $1.02 billion annually.

“Today, the Commonwealth is standing up for the hundreds of thousands of Virginians who should have access to the same health insurance premium assistance available to other consumers who utilize state operated exchanges,” said Attorney General Herring. “I believe the plaintiffs are wrong on the law, and if their arguments were to prevail, it would have incredibly negative consequences for our citizens.”

The plaintiffs in the case have claimed that only people who purchase plans through state-operated health insurance exchanges are eligible for premium assistance tax credits. As the Commonwealth’s brief points out, that claim relies on a narrow interpretation that does not reflect the context, history, or intent of the legislation. Their interpretation would make otherwise qualified Virginians ineligible for tax credits because Virginians purchase healthcare through the federally-operated exchange.

King v. Sebelius is scheduled for oral argument in the fourth circuit on May 14, 2014. At the district level, the Commonwealth previously filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs’ position, which was rejected by U.S. District Courts in this case and in another case currently on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The Commonwealth’s amicus brief is available here.

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