Obamacare and the Courts


As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, moving week has arrived for me.  So I’m going to share just a few thoughts on the latest developments in our nation’s raging debate over health insurance, and then leave it to those of you who wish to post comments to debate the point while I’m busy toting furniture around.

Two different courts recently issued polar-opposite rulings on the question of whether Obamacare’s subsidies are legal for citizens of states who opted not to build their own health insurance exchanges.  The plain language of the statute clearly says that the subsidies may only be paid to citizens purchasing health insurance through a state-run exchange.  The statutory language is not a mistake, though that would be reasonable presumption given the haste and political gyrations through which the bill became law in 2010.  The disputed language actually accurately reflects the political calculation made by the Democrats during the construction of the law.  They thought that this language would create an irresistible carrot to entice states to develop their own exchanges.  It backfired when 36 states decided not to offer their own exchanges, leaving it up to the Feds instead.

This Business Insurance article encapsulates the issue well and provides an enlightening quote from federal government legal beagles.  Here’s the most entertaining paragraph of the article:

Government lawyers wrote in the court filing that the July decision, if left intact, would “impose a severe hardship” on people who currently get the subsidies in the form of tax credits. The appeals court’s ruling led to “harsh and illogical results,” the government lawyers’ court filing said.

The Feds are arguing that the court (through its ruling) is imposing “severe hardship” and “harsh and illogical results” on the citizens who may lose their health insurance subsidies.  That’s rich.  From where I sit, the court is simply interpreting plain English.  It appears to me that the authors of the controversial and politically charged law are the ones responsible for “severe hardship” and “harsh and illogical results” that may now descend from their political shenanigans.  Perhaps the operative wisdom at work here is “you reap what you sow.”



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