Split decision! Fed appeals courts disagree on Obamacare subsidies

In a dramatic split decision, two federal appeals panels disagreed Tuesday on the legality of Obamacare subsidies that gave billions of dollars to help 4.7 million people buy insurance on HealthCare.gov.

A panel of the appeals court that covers Washington, D.C., ruled 2-1 that the subsidies were and are illegal if issued through that federal exchange, as opposed to one set up by a state.

But about two hours later, a Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled 3-0 in another case that the subsidies are legal for people who buy plans on HealthCare.gov, which the federal government operates in 36 states.

The two decisions can be read here.

The circuit split could mean the cases will soon land before the U.S. Supreme Court. For now, the subsidies remain in effect.

The stakes are immense, not least because of the value of the taxpayer-funded subsidies to Obamacare enrollees in two-thirds of the US.

The subsidies are also…

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