Supreme Court Case Commentary: Millions Could Lose Coverage; A GOP Plan To Fix Health Care
Opinion writers from a variety of publications offer their views of the legal arguments and the stakes involved as the high court prepares to review a key provision of the health law.
If Obamacare Plaintiffs Win, Millions Lose: Our View
On Wednesday the Supreme Court will hear the most serious challenge to Obamacare since a single vote at the high court kept the law alive in 2012. As legal challenges go, the latest complaint is bizarre: If the plaintiffs lose, they face little or no harm. If they win, about 8 million people around the USA face substantial injury. (3/1)
Obamacare Rule Harms Millions: Opposing View
In King v. Burwell, four Virginia residents are a challenging an IRS Obamacare rule in the Supreme Court. While the case involves only a handful of plaintiffs, it is really about the millions of Americans who are victims of Obamacare's mandates and penalties. Like the King plaintiffs, millions are harmed by Obamacare's individual mandate, which forces them to either buy insurance that they don't want or to pay a tax penalty. But the IRS rule also has devastating consequences for countless other Americans and their families. (Sam Kazman, 3/1)
The Washington Post:
We Have A Plan For Fixing Health Care
Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about whether the Obama administration used the IRS to deliver health insurance subsidies to Americans in violation of the law. Millions of Americans may lose these subsidies if the court finds that the administration acted illegally. If that occurs, Republicans have a plan to protect Americans harmed by the administration’s actions. When the court rules in King v. Burwell, we anticipate that it will hold the administration to the laws Congress passed, rather than the laws the administration wishes Congress had passed, and prohibit subsidies in states that opted not to set up their own exchanges, as the language in the law clearly states. Such a ruling could cause 6 million Americans to lose a subsidy they counted on, and for many the resulting insurance premiums would be unaffordable. (Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah; Sen. Lamar Alexander, R- Tenn.; and Sen. John Barasso, R-Wyo.; 3/1)
The Wall Street Journal:
Unconstitutional After All?
Next week the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in one of the term’s most-watched cases: King v. Burwell, which raises the question whether the Obama administration has been violating the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. That law, popularly known as ObamaCare, authorizes income-tax subsidies for taxpayers who purchase medical insurance policies from an exchange “established by the State.” A 2012 Internal Revenue Service decree nullified that qualification—improperly, the appellants argue—by interpreting it to include an exchange established by the federal government. In short, unlike 2012’s big ObamaCare case, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, King is all about statutory interpretation; it does not challenge the constitutionality of ObamaCare. (James Taranto, 3/27)
Los Angeles Times:
Is GOP Finally Getting Nervous That The Supreme Court Might Gut Obamacare?
It wasn't so long ago that Republicans were viewing the prospect that the Supreme Court might overturn a key provision of the Affordable Care Act with unalloyed glee. The court might "ultimately take it down," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) crowed in December. "You could have a mulligan here, a major do-over of the whole thing, that opportunity presented to us by the Supreme Court." We're not hearing that so much these days. (Michael Hiltzik, 2/27)
The Washington Post:
In Affordable Care Act Case, Context Is Key
As with everything else here these days, the talk about the Affordable Care Act case before the Supreme Court next week will focus on ideological splits: Will any conservative justice join the four liberals all but certain to back the administration? In fact, the correct conservative legal position would be to rule for the administration. (Ruth Marcus, 3/1)
The Supreme Court Hears An Obamacare Fairytale
Congress knew exactly what it wanted to do when it passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, and contrary to the plaintiffs’ claim, that included wanting subsidies for buying health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges to be available to all citizens, even those residing in the 36 states that did not set up their own exchanges, instead relying on the exchange set up by the federal government. (Steven Brill, 3/2)
The New York Times' The Upshot:
How An Adverse Supreme Court Ruling Would Send Obamacare Into A Tailspin
Even if you don’t receive Obamacare subsidies, you could still be harmed by the Supreme Court case that could take them away. A court ruling for the plaintiffs in the case, King v. Burwell, would have wide-reaching effects for the individual insurance markets in around three dozen states. The approximately six million people currently receiving subsidies in those states would be hit hard, of course. But so could the millions who now buy their own insurance without subsidies. The results could be surging prices and reduced choice for health insurance shoppers across the income spectrum. (Margot Sanger-Katz, 2/27)
The New York Times:
Hello, Justices? It’s Reality Calling
Tough luck, say the plaintiffs: The harsh consequences of a ruling in their favor should be irrelevant to the justices, whose only job is to interpret the statutory text. In any event, the plaintiffs contend, those harsh consequences are perfectly consistent with what Congress meant the law to accomplish. But the plaintiffs are mistaken. It’s not irrelevant that a ruling in their favor would inflict such damage. To the contrary, that fact helps us correctly interpret the statute’s text. Indeed, it shows that the plaintiffs’ understanding of that text is wrong. (Nicholas Bagley, 2/2)
The Washington Post:
James Blumstein On The Administration, The IRS And The ACA: Will The Courts Rein In The President’s Pen?
The IRS regulation being challenged in King is of a piece with the overall Obama Administration strategy of unilaterally extending executive power. President Obama has not been cute about this, asserting his intent to use his “pen” to push the envelope of executive powers and his “phone” to announce and secure support for his unilateral initiatives. No sub rosa stealth there. ... King therefore reflects a challenge to what is perhaps the most significant of the Obama Administration’s executive actions in stretching the ACA. This is what the case is about. (James Blumstein, 2/27)