State: Montanans Won’t Lose Health-Care Subsidies

Two contradictory court rulings called health-care law's subsidies into question

By Dillon Tabish

HELENA — State officials said Tuesday that they don’t believe Montanans receiving tax credits to buy health insurance are in danger of losing them.

Two contradictory federal appeals-court rulings that came out Tuesday have called President Barack Obama’s health-care law’s subsidies into question.

“We do not believe the thousands of working Montanans currently receiving tax credits to buy individual health insurance for themselves and their children are in any danger of losing those credits,” Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen said. “This case will first have to wind its way through the federal court system, a long and arduous process.”

In the case referred to by Lindeen, an appellate court panel in Washington, D.C., said credits can be granted only in states that have set up their own insurance markets, or exchanges. Montana is one of 36 states using the federal exchange.

However, a separate ruling by a federal appeals court in Virginia said regulations allowing consumers in all 50 states to purchase subsidized coverage correctly interprets Congress’ will in passing the health care law.

Thousands of Montana residents qualify and are using federal tax credits to buy health insurance plans, Lindeen said.

The average Montana family who received a health-insurance tax credit is paying $99 a month for health insurance, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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