Advocacy groups attempt to debunk King v. Burwell case

Leading medical groups including the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association are ringing the alarm about the upcoming Supreme Court case that threatens to erase $28 billion in ObamaCare subsidies.

The advocacy groups, which worked closely to shape the Affordable Care Act during years of debates, argued the original law intended for people in every state to qualify for subsidies, regardless of whether they used the federal marketplace or created their own. 

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That argument attempts to debunk the premise of the GOP-backed lawsuit King v. Burwell, which states that only people using state exchanges are allowed receive subsidies under the law.

The uncertainty about the bill's language could wreak havoc on the president's signature healthcare law. If the court rules against the Obama administration, it would erase healthcare subsidies in 34 states that have opted out of creating their own exchanges.

But the groups argue that the murky language does not mean the bill’s drafters were unclear in their intent to provide subsidies across the country.

“Our organizations would have strenuously objected to any suggestion that the physical and financial health of patients with serious diseases should depend on the entity administering the exchange in their state,” the groups wrote in a statement.

“We would have objected even more strongly to any legislative provision that used patients’ well-being as a bargaining chip to induce states to establish their own exchanges,” they wrote.

The advocacy groups, which also include the American Diabetes Association and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, filed their brief amid a flurry of amicus briefs leading up to the Supreme Court oral arguments on March 4.