The announcement of the second hearing is a victory for the Obama administration, which suffered a defeat in late July, when a three-judge panel threw out the subsidies, ruling they were not legitimate under the Affordable Care Act.
The en banc order issued Thursday vacates the judges’ July decision, eliminating, at least temporarily, a circuit split in the matter that could have led the Supreme Court to take up the case.
A decision by the full D.C. appellate court, in which Democratic appointees outnumber Republicans, could favor the administration. Arguments are scheduled for Dec. 17.
If the full D.C. court decides for the government, experts say it is unlikely that the high court will intervene.
The case, Halbig v. Burwell, pertains to whether the healthcare law allows the federal exchanges to issue tax subsidies to offset the cost of purchasing insurance.
The plaintiffs argue that the precise language of the law only allows the credits to be issued through exchanges established by individual states. Only 14 states opted to create their own exchange, with the rest opting to let the federal government handle enrollment through HealthCare.Gov.