Supreme Court hears latest bullshit argument on Obamacare

The Supreme Court is set to once again hear challenges against the Affordable Care Act, this time with the plaintiff’s argument—and the fate 9.6 million people who could lose their healthcare—hinging on the interpretation of four words buried within the law.

Those words? “Established by the state.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, people without access to employer-provided insurance or existing government plans must buy private insurance through “exchanges” run by either the state, or if the state was unable (unwilling) to set up an exchange, the federal government. People with low income are eligible for federal tax credits to help them pay their premiums.

The plaintiffs in Wednesday’s hearing are arguing that a section of the law describing the calculation of those tax credits refers only to state-run exchanges. Therefore, any person living in one the 37 states that couldn’t get its shit together to set up an exchange is ineligible to receive tax credits.

The lawsuit was cooked up by conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute, and represents the latest in a long line of efforts by conservatives to destroy Obamacare by any means necessary. The real kicker here is that the majority of people who would lose coverage live in southern states governed by Republicans.

Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) recently remarked that if the court rules in their favor, “Republicans have a plan to protect Americans.” Seeing as how, in the five years since Obamacare was enacted, they haven’t been able to come up with any sort of viable alternative, I’m sure the potentially soon-to-be-uninsured are breathing easy today.

UPDATE: During Wednesday’s hearing, Supreme Court justices seemed split along ideological lines, delivering tough questioning to lawyers on both sides of the case. Justice Kennedy, a potential swing vote, seemed particularly concerned with whether denying tax credits to states with only federally-run exchanges constituted inappropriate coercion of their governments—that that they would be forced to establish their own exchange, or face a what some have called a marketplace “death spiral.”

Justice Clarence Thomas, per his custom, worked on his living statue routine.


[Guardian | CNN | WaPo]