Two court rulings issued this week taking opposing views on the legality of subsidies granted to individuals who enroll in the public healthcare exchanges have the potential to further delay the employer mandate, say some legal experts.

In a 2-1 ruling issued Tuesday in Halbig v. Burwell, the 3-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled subsidies can only be granted to those people who bought insurance in an exchange run by an individual state or the District of Columbia, not on the federally run exchange. Just hours later, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia issued a contradicting opinion, saying that while the Affordable Care Act does acknowledge the “existence of state exchanges,” the law still directs the Department of Health and Human Services to establish exchanges when states fail to do so themselves.

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