High court asked to rule on ObamaCare subsidies

The Supreme Court on Thursday was asked to decide whether some of the subsidies distributed under ObamaCare are illegal.

ADVERTISEMENT
Lawyers petitioned the high court over last week’s decision in King v. Burwell, which found that the government has the power to distribute subsidies for health insurance in the federal exchange HealthCare.gov.

That ruling came just a few hours after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reached the opposite conclusion, finding in Halbig v. Burwell that the language of the healthcare law only allows the subsidies to be distributed in ObamaCare exchanges run by the states.

Sam Kazman, a general council for the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) who is coordinating the case for the plaintiffs in King V. Burwell, said it’s up to the high court to resolve the discrepancy.

“From the time these cases were first filed, we’ve tried to get this issue resolved as quickly as possible for the plaintiffs and the millions of individuals like them,” Kazman said.

“A fast resolution is also vitally important to the states that chose not to set up exchanges, to the employers in those states who face either major compliance costs or huge penalties, and to employees who face possible layoffs or reductions in their work hours as a result of this illegal IRS rule,” Kazman said. “Our petition today to the Supreme Court represents the next step in that process.”

While attorneys representing the plaintiffs in both cases argue strict reading of the Affordable Care Act specifies that only an “exchange established by the State” is eligible for subsidies, the Obama administration says that was not the intention of Congress.

If the high court were to side with the plaintiffs, an estimated 5 million people could lose subsidies to offset the cost of ObamaCare coverage.

On Thursday Kazman also took a shot at Jonathan Gruber, an ObamaCare architect, for comments that he made in a recent YouTube video posted by CEI.

On the video, Gruber seems to argue the law was crafted to push states into building their own exchanges. He has since said he doesn’t remember making those comments and that they were a mistake.

“On ObamaCare, last week started with a circuit split and ended with a Jonathan Gruber split. Our hope is the Supreme Court will at least resolve the former,” Kazman said. 

— This story was updated at 8 p.m.