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U.S. wants another health care case put on hold

The Obama administration on Wednesday told a federal appeals court now reviewing the scope of subsidies to help people buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act that it will soon ask that the case be put on hold while the Supreme Court reviews the same controversy.

The plan came in the form of a motion seeking a delay of a filing deadline in a case in which a federal judge in Oklahoma had ruled that the federal subsidies cannot be provided to consumers who obtain health insurance at a marketplace set up and run by the federal government, but only on such an exchange run by a state government.   The government has now appealed that ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

The federal government’s opening brief in the Tenth Circuit case is now due on November 18, but the Justice Department asked for a seven-day extension.  “The extension is requested,” the motion said, “because the federal government intends to move to hold this appeal in abeyance pending the Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell, which presents the same issue as this case.”

The motion noted that the Supreme Court had granted review of the King case last Friday, and that “a decision is expected this Term.”  It also noted that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has already decided to hold in abeyance another case on the subsidies issue.

The state of Oklahoma, which pursued the successful challenge on the subsidies issue in the federal district court in Oklahoma, has not yet decided where it stands on the abeyance motion, the government filing said.

Another federal district court judge, in Indianapolis, is apparently nearing a decision on the same subsidies dispute, in a case filed by the state of Indiana and a group of public school districts in that state.  The judge has held a hearing on the case, and presumably is now writing a decision.  As of Wednesday, there was no request for that case to be put on hold.

Recommended Citation: Lyle Denniston, U.S. wants another health care case put on hold, SCOTUSblog (Nov. 13, 2014, 6:18 PM),