Dems defend O-Care subsidies as high court considers challenge

A group of Democratic lawmakers who helped write ObamaCare are jumping to its defense, a day before the Supreme Court decides whether to take up a new challenge to the healthcare law.

“As members of Congress who shaped and debated the legislation, we want to set the record straight,” five lawmakers wrote in an op-ed published Thursday afternoon in The Washington Post.

{mosads}The letter attacks a series of GOP-driven lawsuits, including King v. Burwell. The justices will hold a conference tomorrow to consider adding the case to their docket.

The lawmakers — Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Reps. Sandy M. Levin (D-Mich.), George Miller (D-Calif.) and Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) — blame the GOP for what they call false characterizations of the Affordable Care Act.

“Those who brought the recent lawsuits have developed a fanciful notion about Congress’s intentions,” they wrote.

King v. Burwell rests on whether the federal government can legally hand out healthcare subsidies in the 34 states that have opted out of creating their own exchanges. If the high court rules against the premium credits, it would dismantle a core component of the law that’s already gone into effect for more than 4 million people in the U.S.

In their letter, the Democrats argue that the law’s opponents are trying to “cherry-pick” language from the statute to prove that the federal government doesn’t have power to enforce subsidy rules.

“But the language on which the law’s opponents rely means no such thing,” the letter reads.

“That is the law we intended. That is the law we enacted. That is the law that is covering millions of people through marketplaces. And that is the law that should continue to be in force,” the lawmakers added.

King v. Burwell, like the similar Halbig v. Burwell case, has a long history within the nation’s court system. On July 22, two U.S. courts delivered opposite rulings on the subsidies. Halbig, one of several pending ObamaCare lawsuits, is slated to be reheard by a full circuit court panel on Dec. 17.

Several of the country’s largest medical groups also reaffirmed their support for the law Thursday.

The American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association and American Heart Association filed an amicus brief arguing that Congress “clearly intended to make premium tax credits available in both federal and state-run marketplaces.”

If the Supreme Court rules against the law, they warned as many as 12.5 million nationwide could lose financial assistance to help pay for healthcare, which would increase their risk for serious chronic diseases.

“On behalf of the millions of people nationwide with serious chronic diseases, we urge the Court of Appeals to affirm the District Court’s decision and rule that people who meet necessary income eligibility requirements can receive tax credits to make coverage more affordable in either a federal or state-run marketplace.”

The Supreme Court has already upheld the Affordable Care Act, though it gutted the federal mandates for states to expand Medicaid.   

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