The Obamacare ruling: Rewrite comes back to bite
July 23, 2014 04:00 AM | 2140 views | 4 4 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Obamacare, which has already severely disrupted health care coverage for millions of Americans, may be about to further disrupt it for millions more thanks to a ruling by a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday.

That court ruled correctly that Congress did not give the federal government the power to provide subsidies and assess penalties in states that have yet to set up their own health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. That ruling has the clear potential to make the ACA all but unworkable because it says federal subsidies can only be provided in states that have set up their own insurance markets. Thirty-six states have not set up such exchanges. The economics that underlay the ACA will not work on a 14-state model.

Meanwhile, the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., issued a ruling of its own a few hours later on a similar case that, in effect, completely upholds the subsidies in question.

So where does Obamacare go from here?

Administration spokesmen were quick to laugh off the first ruling and promised that those who have signed up for Obamacare via the federal exchanges and are now enjoying billions of dollars in federal subsidies from taxpayers will continue to be covered. And ObamaCare apologists offered Congress had intended for consumers in all 50 states to be eligible for the subsidies. But that’s not what the law said Congress passed. Then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi memorably said it would be necessary to pass the Obamacare law to see what was in it. Tuesday’s ruling from Washington is proof positive she and her fellow Democrats did not read the bill closely enough.

The Obama administration has promised to appeal the Washington ruling to the full D.C. Court of Appeals. And with a heavy majority of its members having been appointed by Democratic presidents, including four by Mr. Obama himself, the presumption is they will bend over backward to rule in the administration’s favor.

Should that happen, all will not be over, however. The plaintiffs then could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Should the case get to that point, all bets are off.

Not only was the Affordable Care Act rammed through to passage on a strict party-line vote, the administration and its minions at the IRS and elsewhere have rewritten the bill willy-nilly since then for political reasons and to reward friends. Now one of those rewrites has come back to bite.

But despite their best efforts, Obamacare is no more popular now than it was before. And anything the courts do now, short of upholding the Washington ruling and setting the country on a path toward a comprehensive reworking of the ACA — or better yet, starting over from scratch — is unlikely to change that.

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Dave Z
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July 25, 2014
"or better yet, starting over from scratch"

Let's face it, the GOP had many years to fix healthcare and chose not to. And they were not about to start. Nor will they start over scratch, if given the chance.

The GOP removed itself for the healthcare fix process, so we are indeed left with the Democrat's version, which could have used some moderation / GOP input. But that would've made it much harder to complain about.
anonymous
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July 24, 2014
Two Republican appointed judges on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling that may remove health insurance for millions of Americans. Republican States have, out of spite, refused to accept the Medicade expansion denying millions more of poor Americans health insurance. What a great day for the Republicans. Who says they are the "Do Nothing Party"!
anonymous part 2
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July 25, 2014
blah blah blah.......obamacare is garbage.....and you cannot blame the Republicans for passing this pile of excrement.......Democrats are killing off the middle class with their policies....
anonymous
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July 26, 2014
@anonymous part 2 actually the garbage and pile of excrement "IS" the Republican Health Care Plan. It was conceived at the conservative Heritage Institute and implemented by Gov. Mitt Romney of Mass. the ACA was written by the same people who created the Mass. Bill. Rather than work to make "YOUR" bill work to help the American people the Republicans chose to destroy it rather than allow Obama any credit. Your childish tantrum is however amusing.
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