Ruling On Obamacare Subsidies Could Come As Early As This Week
This has made Obamacare supporters Very Concerned
(CBS News) The Supreme Court last week chipped away at one part of the Affordable Care Act, but its ruling in the Hobby Lobby contraception case left most of Obamacare intact. Other court cases, however, are making their way through the court system in an attempt to deliver a more fatal blow to the controversial law.
The Hobby Lobby ruling means nothing in the overall scheme of Obamacare. Even if another case comes along which completely scuttles the “contraception mandate”, it wouldn’t affect Obamacare in the least, since it was an administrative rule, not a requirement of the PPACA.
As early as this week, a three-judge panel from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to hand down a ruling on whether the federal government can give subsidies to Obamacare recipients in states with federally-run health care exchanges. If the appeals court rules in favor of the law’s opponents, it could cripple the law. More than half of the states rely on federally-run marketplaces, and were subsidies not available in those states, Obamacare could be too costly for many customers.
The case, Halbig v. Burwell, rests on how the court system interprets a poorly-worded sentence in the Affordable Care Act.
Section 1311 of the law says the federal government will give subsidies to eligible consumers who buy insurance from an exchange “established by the State.” The Halbig suit — and three other similar cases — argue that, consequently, subsidies aren’t available to customers in the 34 Obamacare exchanges that were established by the federal government.
At the end of the day, this case, originally Halbig v. Sebelius before she jumped ship, seems to rest on intent, at least in the realm of legal arguments and the court precedings. That is the Government argument. However, the actual text of Obamacare is very specific: there can only be subsidies to citizens who sign up through an Exchange established by a State.
Steven Schwinn, a professor at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, agreed that the legal basis for the challenge focuses intently on one poorly-drafted phrase.
“So much of the language of the act makes clear the congressional intent was to extend subsidies to federal exchanges,” he said. “When you look beyond one sentence… I think the picture is quite clear what’s going on in the Affordable Care Act.”
Yet, that is not what the law states. Perhaps the 100% Democrat written law should have had a little more attention paid to, prior to the votes of which no Republicans voted in the affirmative for its passage. Several of the judges had quite a bit of skepticism during the oral arguments for the “intent” argument. If the Government loses the decision, this could be on a fast track to Supreme Court review.
There are also plenty of other lawsuits flying around regarding Obamacare. And, let’s not forget, the ruling regarding the individual mandate comes in to play the minute someone is hit with the fine/fee/tax. When John Roberts sided with the Liberals, that door was opened.