TPM News

The Obama administration caught a glimpse of the worst-case scenario for the president's signature health care law on Tuesday in a ruling by a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C.

The ruling will be appealed, but even if it ends up being upheld, policy experts told TPM that it might be fairly easy for the administration to craft a workaround to keep a key piece of the law from falling apart.

The D.C. federal appeals court initially appeared to throw a stunning legal blow to Obamacare with its decision to invalidate financial subsidies offered through HealthCare.gov. The loss of those subsidies could affect 4.7 million people and send premiums skyrocketing. But the ruling was quickly tempered by a separate appeals court ruling that upheld the subsidies in another case.

Either way, the legal case is far from over and likely to work its way through another court panel or two before possibly heading to the Supreme Court.

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Of the roughly 5.4 million people who purchased health insurance through HealthCare.gov this year, 87 percent -- 4.7 million -- received premium tax credits, according to the latest estimate from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Those are the people who would stand to lose their financial benefits under Obamacare if the U.S. appeals court decision on Tuesday that invalidated the subsidies offered through the federal website were to stand.

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