Obamacare ruling calls federal exchange into question

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- There's another legal battle over President Obama's health care law, and this one could affect more than 44 thousand people in Maine.

On Tuesday, two federal appeals courts came to different conclusions as to whether people who take part in the federal health care exchange are allowed to get insurance subsidies.

One court has ruled that the only people eligible for the subsidies are those in states that set up their own exchange.

Maine does not have a state exchange. In 2012, Governor Paul LePage announced he opposed the state-run exchange, and sent a letter to the US DHHS Commissioner explaining that Maine would be using the federal exchange only.

After Tuesday's ruling, Gov. LePage released the following statement:

"Maine state government cannot afford to pick up the cost of the subsidies. We simply do not have the money to subsidize health insurance premiums. This mess is just the latest example of what a disaster the Affordable Care Act is. I urge Mainers to call on those in Congress who voted for this scheme to get to work and fix this law immediately."

Independent candidate for Governor Eliot Cutler held a press conference Tuesday, and said LePage could have created a "safety net" for Mainers by supporting a state-run exchange.

"This legal battling would have been, could have been, irrelevant to Maine people had we had the wisdom and foresight to set up our own exchange," said Cutler.

Democratic candidate for Governor Mike Michaud, who voted in favor of the Affordable Care Act in Congress, also released a statement, in part:

"I have always supported the establishment of a state exchange in Maine because I believe that is the best way for Mainers to access good, affordable healthcare."

The White House says policy holders will keep getting financial aid as the appeals process continues, and the administration works to understand the implications of the ruling.


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