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Obamacare Going Back Before the Supreme Court

That the Supreme Court basically rushed to take this case bodes ill for the Obama Administration.

In an unusual move the Supreme Court decided to take up King v. Burwell even though there is technically no split in the lower courts.

At the heart of the case is an effort to stop exchange subsidies from going out to states where the exchanges were set up by the federal government. The argument hinges on the wording in one passage of the Affordable Care Act which says subsidies go to people getting coverage on exchanges “established by the state.”

There is zero indication in the Congressional record, Congressional Budget Office reports, or media coverage of the entire debate that anyone drafting the law intended subsidies to be conditional on whether states established the exchanges. Much of the other parts of law would logically not make sense if that were the case.

The fact, that the Supreme Court basically rushed to take this case instead of waiting until after the Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington en banc hearing could be a bad sign for the Obama administration.

If the Supreme Court rules against the administration millions of people could lose access to subsidies unless state (Republican) lawmakers agree to create their own exchanges, or agree to form a “partnership” with the federally run system.

It would be ironic if Democrats’ stupid policy decision to go with state-based exchanges over a single national exchange (made for really silly political reasons) came back to undermine the law again. That decision has already caused significant political damage to Democrats and support for the law when it left the administration ill-prepared to build healthcare.gov, resulting in a terrible rollout.

Photo by Phil Roeder under Creative Commons license

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at http://pendinghorizon.com

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