The threats to Obamacare just keep on coming…
A case before the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia may determine the Affordable Care Act was written in such a way that it prevents the federal government’s HealthCare.gov web site from offering subsidies.
What this means is, more than 5 million of the 8 million who signed up for Obamacare through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ web site would not be eligible for tax credits. Most, presumably, would fall off the rolls of the insured.
The case that could be ruled upon as early as Tuesday is known as Halbig v. Burwell, formerly Halbig v. Sebelius. CNBC reported that two of the three judges who heard the case in March indicated they might rule in favor of the plaintiffs, and lower courts may follow the Supreme Court’s lead, which has ruled the Obama administration has overstepped its bounds in recent cases.
The issue is the phrasing in the law which uses the words “established by the State” as opposed to “established under this Act” and the plaintiffs in the cases have construed that to mean exchanges only established by a state. But the Halbig case, along with another in Virginia, were dismissed earlier this year when lower-court judges found the arguments for the plaintiffs to be off base, since the ACA’s subsidies clearly were meant for those in states where the federal government had to step in to establish the exchange.
Should Halbig succeed, it’s expected the Obama administration will appeal immediately to all judges at the D.C. Circuit Court, and then it would go on to the Supreme Court from there. It’s not guaranteed, though, that the high court would hear the case. Obama administration officials are mum on the case until there is a ruling in the D.C. court.
One question that remains unanswered: Why didn’t Obamacare opponents in Congress key in on this when the law was being implemented late last year and early this year?