Law Prof: Dueling ACA Rulings More About Federal Agencies’ Power

George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley says the conflicting rulings on Obamacare subsidies handed down Tuesday are less about healthcare than about the role of federal agencies.

“The Fourth Circuit basically said that they would defer to the IRS,” Turley said Tuesday on Fox News Channel’s “The Kelly File.”

A three-judge panel of the District of Columbia Circuit Court ruled 2-1 that the subsidies paid by the federal government to enrollees at HealthCare.gov violate the Affordable Care Act because the strict wording of the law says that subsidies are to be paid to people who sign up through state exchanges. Thirty-six states opted not to create exchanges, forcing the federal government to create its own exchange for residents of those states.

Hours after the D.C. ruling, the Fourth Circuit court in Virginia ruled the other way in a separate case. That ruling, which was unanimous, said the wording of the law was ambiguous and therefore open to interpretation.

Turley told Fox News he agreed with the D.C. ruling.

“I don’t see the ambiguity,” he said. “In fact, I find it rather odd that a line that says the tax credits are linked directly to states with state exchanges is viewed as somehow ambiguous.”