More than 190,000 Georgians are enrolled in the health insurance exchange created by the Affordable Care Act.
But if a D.C. federal court ruling announced Tuesday on exchange subsidies is ultimately upheld, that Georgia number could shrink precipitously.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled Tuesday that the language of the ACA allows subsidies, or discounts, only for people who obtain coverage through exchanges run by the states, and not by the federal government.
Georgia is among 36 states whose insurance exchanges are federally run.
About 95 percent of Georgians enrolled in health plans in the exchange have received subsidies to help them afford their premiums, according to the state insurance department.
The 2-to-1 ruling by a three-judge panel of the court — if not overturned on appeal — would be a tremendous setback for President Obama’s health care law.
Without subsidies, the price of health insurance for millions of people in Georgia and the 35 other states with federally run exchanges would rise sharply, making it generally unaffordable.
The judges suspended their ruling pending an appeal by the administration. The Obama administration said it would appeal to the full circuit court, a process that could take up to six months, and stressed the ruling would have no impact on consumers receiving monthly subsidies now, Reuters reported.
Also Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia ruled unanimously to uphold the subsidies provision, saying the wording of the law was too ambiguous to restrict the availability of the funds. The ruling was announced shortly after the D.C. decision.