EDITOR’S COMMENT: Even though I truly believe that this SCOTUS decision was wrong, this will not in all likelihood change the outlook for Obamacare, as premiums are continuing to soar, as are the ever-increasing huge deductibles. A number of the exchanges, as well as almost all of the specially-established ‘cooperatives’ are crashing or about to go out of business. And, doctors are starting to resist taking on certain new patients, especially those newly signed up under Obamacare for Medicaid. And, finally, the polls continue to show that the majority of Americans do not approve of Obamacare. Given all these facts, it would seem that Obamacare should either collapse of its own weight, or would appear to be particularly ripe for conservatives to propose some meaningful alternatives, if they can ever fight for the real principles, for which they were elected to support.
By Rick Moran
The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that tax subsidies for Obamacare insurance policies are legal. Joining the liberals in the majority were Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy. Roberts wrote for the majority.
Chief Justice John Roberts again voted with his liberal colleagues in support of the law. Roberts also was the key vote to uphold the law in 2012. Justice Anthony Kennedy, a dissenter in 2012, was part of the majority on Thursday.
“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Roberts wrote in the majority opinion.
Nationally, 10.2 million people have signed up for health insurance under the Obama health overhaul. That includes the 8.7 million people who are receiving an average subsidy of $272 a month to help pay their insurance premiums.
Of those receiving subsidies, 6.4 million people were at risk of losing that aid because they live in states that did not set up their own health insurance exchanges.
The challenge devised by die-hard opponents of the law, often derided by critics as “Obamacare,” relied on four words – established by the state – in the more than 900-page law.
The law’s opponents argued that the vast majority of people who now get help paying for their insurance premiums are ineligible for their federal tax credits. That is because roughly three dozen states opted against creating their own health insurance marketplaces, or exchanges, and instead rely on the federal healthcare.gov to help people find coverage if they don’t get insurance through their jobs or the government.
In the challengers’ view, the phrase “established by the state” demonstrated that subsidies were to be available only available to people in states that set up their own exchanges. Those words cannot refer to exchanges established by the Health and Human Services Department, which oversees healthcare.gov, the opponents argued.
The administration, congressional Democrats and 22 states responded that it would make no sense to construct the law the way its opponents suggested. The idea behind the law’s structure was to decrease the number of uninsured. The law prevents insurers from denying coverage because of “pre-existing” health conditions. It requires almost everyone to be insured and provides financial help to consumers who otherwise would spend too much of their paycheck on their premiums.
The point of the last piece, the subsidies, is to keep enough people in the pool of insured to avoid triggering a so-called death spiral of declining enrollment, a growing proportion of less healthy people and premium increases by insurers.
The justices decided not to rule based on the letter of the law, but rather on the real-world impact of their decision. “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” wrote Roberts. The impact of a decision to declare 6 million people ineligible for subsidies would have devastated the insurance markets.
Scalia, in his dissent, quipped, “We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.” Indeed, once again, Obama is saved from his own folly by the Supreme Court. It’s disappointing, but hardly surprising. The Supreme Court is usually reluctant to overturn congressional action based solely on how the law is worded – “inartfully written,” as Roberts says. Intent is at least equally important, and in this case, the Supreme Court chose to interpret congressional intent in favor of the administration. (my emphasis)
By Rick Moran for American Thinker
By permission American Thinker