The United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has agreed to rehear a case that could protect much-needed subsidies for up to 5 million consumers under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The DC Circuit issued an order today granting a US Department of Justice request for the Court to reconsider en banc the 3-judge panel decision in Halbig v. Burwell that nixed subsidies for insurance seekers enrolling under the federal health care exchange.

The subsidies were created under the ACA to help consumers afford to purchase private insurance plans, but the Halbig decision held that the subsidies were legal only in states operating their own online exchange. There are 36 states without a state-run system, leaving millions of seekers with only limited access to care.

The DC Circuit decision voids its original 3-judge panel ruling in Halbig, temporarily derailing this attempt to defund the ACA. The full court will now hear the case on December 17 .

Media Resources: US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit 9/4/14; Reuters 9/4/14; ThinkProgress 9/4/14

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