ObamaCare supporters blitz high court ahead of subsidy arguments

ObamaCare supporters are urging the Supreme Court to preserve billions of dollars in health insurance subsidies that are currently distributed through the federal exchanges.

People who say their health and financial stability are at risk in the King v. Burwell case filed briefs Wednesday, joining advocacy group Families USA, the Catholic Health Association and the five key Democratic lawmakers involved in drafting the law.


Petitioners in King argue that the Affordable Care Act limits the distribution of tax credits to exchanges run by the states, and that Democrats adopted this approach to encourage states to set up their own marketplaces.

Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), who led the House Ways and Means Committee as the bill was drafted, called this idea "nonsense."

"That issue was never part of the discussion. It was never mentioned, never discussed, even by the opponents [of ObamaCare]," Levin said Wednesday at a press conference held by Families USA.

"It's a figment of [plaintiffs'] imagination," Levin said. "It was never whispered [in committee]."

Debate over King v. Burwell is heating up ahead of oral arguments at the Supreme Court in March. Leading medical groups including the American Cancer Society filed their own amicus brief in support of the subsidies on Tuesday.

Families USA President Ron Pollack said his group never considered the subsidy challenges to be legally serious, calling them politically motivated attacks on ObamaCare.

Pollack also accused the Supreme Court of failing to follow its usual guidelines when it chose to hear the case.

"There's no serious constitutional issue in this case," Pollack said Wednesday. "In this case there is no constitutional issue at all. There is no conflict between circuit courts of appeals."

The petitioners argue that Democrats and supporters of ObamaCare are rewriting history in order to stave off the chaos a loss in subsidies on the federal exchanges would cause.

Supporters of the challenge also blame Democrats, claiming they misled the public and are responsible for any hurt caused by a potential loss in subsidies.

Individuals who receive subsidized coverage on the federal exchanges pleaded Wednesday for the Supreme Court to allow the credits to continue.

"If the subsidies are taken away, I can no longer afford healthcare. My whole family will return to the fear of being sick, dying or becoming bankrupt," said Sarah Lewis, a participant in Wisconsin's exchange who said she's receiving life-saving medical care as a result of her coverage.