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No need to fix subsidy language, says Dem author of ObamaCare

A Democratic author of ObamaCare said Wednesday that there is no need to fix what some have called a drafting error in the healthcare law that prompted a legal challenge to subsidies distributed through the federal exchanges.

Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), who led the House Ways and Means Committee while the law was drafted, said the Affordable Care Act supports the idea of subsidies for all qualified Americans, regardless of what state they live in.

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"We don't think there is anything to be fixed," Levin said Wednesday at a press conference organized by Families USA.

"We didn't think there was a problem. No one ever suggested there was a problem. The assumption was that these tax provisions would apply across the board. ... There's no problem," he said.

The remarks came after reporters posed Levin questions about a phrase highlighted by petitioners in the King v. Burwell case, which will receive oral arguments at the Supreme Court in March.

One piece of the statute states that subsidies will go to people on "an exchange established by the state." Challengers in the King case argue this makes subsidies distributed on the federally run exchanges invalid.

Former Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), another author of the law, rejected the idea that lawmakers intended to limit subsidies to state-run exchanges in order to encourage governors to stand up their own marketplaces.

"It was never discussed. It was never debated. It was never a point raised by those in opposition," he said Wednesday.

"Obviously nobody thought this would be inconsistent," Miller said of the "established by the state" phrase. "They were viewed as equivalent, state and federal. The treatment of the people of the United States would be equal regardless of [who ran the exchange]."

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case on March 4.