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5 Takeaways from the Supreme Court’s Obamacare Subsidies Ruling in King v. Burwell
Chief Justice John Roberts rewrote the law in order to save it – again.
The law states explicitly and repeatedly that subsidies are only available in exchanges established by a State – and it defines State to mean the 50 states plus the District of Columbia. Roberts decided, essentially, that the phrase “established by a State” actually meant “established by a State OR the federal government.”
This resembles the Supreme Court’s 2012 Obamacare decision — also written by Roberts — which declared that individual mandate was illegal under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, but permissible if reimagined as a tax.
Roberts practically admitted that he believes he has a duty to save the law.
His decision declares that Congress didn’t intend adverse effects from its reforms of the health insurance market, and, as a result, demands that the Court “interpret” the law so as not to cause any policy impact. Essentially he’s saying that it’s the court’s duty to prevent any potentially bad thing from happening as a result of the law, regardless of how it’s written.
This was not judicial deference.
Roberts opinion is framed as a form of deference to Congress. But what he actually did was take a law that Congress wrote and decide exactly what it meant.
Roberts decision largely preserves the status quo.
At its most basic, this was a decision not to change anything about the way the law works right now. The subsidies will continue. Nothing has to change as a direct result of this ruling.
It paves the way for struggling state-based exchanges to migrate to the federal exchange.
Right now, a lot of the state-run exchanges are having trouble with technology and with funding. Those states now have a clear legal path to join with the federal government’s exchange in full or in part
House bill would force the Supreme Court to enroll in ObamaCare
By Mark Hensch
A House Republican on Thursday proposed forcing the Supreme Court justices and their staff to enroll in ObamaCare.
Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) said that his SCOTUScare Act would make all nine justices and their employees join the national healthcare law’s exchanges.
“As the Supreme Court continues to ignore the letter of the law, it’s important that these six individuals understand the full impact of their decisions on the American people,” he said.
“That’s why I introduced the SCOTUScare Act to require the Supreme Court and all of its employees to sign up for ObamaCare,” Babin said.
Babin’s potential legislation would only let the federal government provide healthcare to the Supreme Court and its staff via ObamaCare exchanges.
“By eliminating their exemption from ObamaCare, they will see firsthand what the American people are forced to live with,” he added.
His move follows the Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday morning that upheld the subsidies under ObamaCare that are provided by the government to offset the cost of buying insurance.
The 6-3 decision, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, said consumers purchasing health insurance from the federal exchange in roughly 34 states could continue to do so.
The ruling in King v. Burwell has spurred anger on the right, with conservatives questioning the logic of the decision.
“They deserve an Olympic medal for the legal gymnastics,” Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, told The Hill.
Roberts argued in his decision that eliminating subsidies would have pulled state healthcare markets into a death spiral. That chain of effects, he added, was not consistent with ObamaCare’s intent.
“The argument that the phrase ‘established by the State’ would be superfluous if Congress meant to extend tax credits to both State and Federal Exchanges is unpersuasive,” he wrote.
Justice Antonin Scalia strongly criticized that interpretation in his dissent.
“We should start by calling this law SCOTUScare,” he wrote, lambasting Roberts for the ObamaCare decision in 2012 declaring the law’s mandate that people buy insurance constitutional.
President Obama celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling in a statement from the Rose Garden.
“After multiple challenges before the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay,” he said.