Jon Elswick/AP – The plaintiffs in the case argue that Congress intended the law’s subsidies for low- and middle-income people to go only to people in states that set up their own health-insurance exchanges.

By Sandhya Somashekhar
Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Opponents of the health-care law took their latest legal challenge to a federal courtroom in the District on Tuesday in a case that many critics of the law view as their last and best chance to gut it before key provisions kick in Jan. 1.

Though some legal scholars view the case as a long shot, it could have significant consequences if it is successful. Millions of people in 34 states could be denied the government subsidies established by the law to help low- and middle-income people pay their health-insurance premiums starting next year.

Even those who think the case has no merit are closely watching it unfold.

“You can no longer take a look at an allegation that on its face appears to have no merit whatsoever and simply dismiss it out of hand,” said Sara Rosenbaum, a health-law professor at George Washington University and a supporter of the Affordable Care Act. “All you need is a very energetic plaintiff and a sympathetic judge. It takes very little to set a case in motion.”

It is one of a number of cases bubbling up through the court system more than a year after the Supreme Court upheld the law, dealing a blow to those who have viewed the law as an unconstitutional and un-American infringement of their freedom. Now, the lawsuits are centering more on the way the law is being implemented.

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