Saturday, November 08, 2014

Supreme Court to hear new challenge to Obamacare

The Supreme Court accepted a case on "Obamacare" for it's new term which just began last month.  This is not a constitutional case, but one of statutory interpretation.  However, if the government loses there will need to be a quick amendment in the law to fix the problem.  With Repubs dominating both houses of Congress that may or may not happen.  I opposed Obamacare on constitutional grounds.  I can live with it on policy grounds now that it is underway and billions have been spent and citizens have started to rely on it.  I only wish the states had formed compacts or their own programs.  The case is a close one, but I think the proper legal result on statutory interpretation grounds is a victory for the government.  Traditionally, the Supreme Court has felt free to take more liberties with interpreting statutes than lower courts might.  According to the NYT (see link)

"The central question in the case, King v. Burwell, No. 14-114, is what to make of a provision in the law limiting subsidies to “an exchange established by the state.” (If states do not establish their own exchanges, the health care law requires the federal government to run them instead.)
The challengers say the provision means that only people in states with their own exchanges can get subsidies. Congress made the distinction, they say, to encourage states to participate.
But the Internal Revenue Service has issued a regulation saying subsidies are allowed whether the exchange is run by a state or by the federal government. The challengers say that regulation is at odds with the law.
In response, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. told the justices that the I.R.S. interpretation was correct, while the one offered by the challengers was “contrary to the act’s text and structure and would render the act unrecognizable to the Congress that passed it.”

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