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This is good for Obamacare: DC Circuit court will review Halbig

( Joe Raedle / Getty Images News)

A major ruling against Obamacare is getting a second look.

The Appeals Court for the District of Columbia announced Thursday that it would re-hear Halbig v. Burwell en banc, meaning the entire panel of 11 judges will weigh in on the case. There will also be two senior judges who hear the case, but do not vote.

The D.C. Circuit Court previously ruled against the Affordable Care Act in its initial Halbig decision. It found that Obamacare subsidies were illegal in the 36 states where the federal government was running the health insurance exchange.

The en banc review has potential to be a big win for Obamacare because it opens up the possibility of the DC Circuit Court reversing its decision. The Fourth Circuit already ruled for Obamacare in a separate, Halbig-like case. If the en banc DC Circuit ruling also rules for the government, that would bring the two appellate courts into agreement on the subsidies’ legality.

And that could lessen the chances of this particular issue ever reaching the Supreme Court, which typically likes to opine on issues where there is a split in circuit opinions.

We don't fully know how the en banc review will go for Obamacare, but the political make up of the panel does suggest a potentially friendlier venue for the law than the initial hearing.

You can read more about the original Halbig decision here (or a shorter, three sentence summary here).

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