Critical day for ObamaCare as high court hears new challenge – By Sarah Ferris and Peter Sullivan – 03/04/15 06:00 AM EST


The nine justices of the Supreme Court on Wednesday will again hold the future of ObamaCare in their hands, as they take up a new legal challenge that could strip insurance subsidies from millions of people.

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The court on Wednesday will hear oral arguments in the King v. Burwell case, with the plaintiffs contending that people in 37 states are illegally receiving subsidies through President Obama’s signature law.

Should the justices rule against the administration, the consequences could be lasting and dramatic.

The Obama administration says it is impossible to carry out the healthcare law without the subsidies, which were designed to help people cover the cost of health insurance.

A victory for the plaintiffs would instantly revoke the insurances subsidies for up to 9.3 million people, according to the nonpartisan Urban Institute, sending shockwaves across the healthcare system.

“Not only would many millions of people lose health insurance and rejoin the ranks of the uninsured, but premiums for everyone else would skyrocket,” said Ron Pollack, the executive director of the pro-ObamaCare Families USA.

Republicans acknowledge the high stakes in the case and have drafted emergency plans to soften the financial blow for ObamaCare participants if the lawsuit succeeds.

The case hinges on the meaning of four words in the text of the law: “established by the state.”

The challengers argue that a plain English reading of the phrase means that subsidies are invalid in the roughly three-dozen states that opted not to set up their own healthcare marketplaces, instead relying on the federal website HealthCare.gov.

Administration lawyers argue a literal reading of the phrase is nonsensical and contradicted by the rest of the law, which they say makes clear that subsidies were intended to be available nationwide.

The outcome of the case could rest on whether a majority of the justices focus on the four-word phrase or opt to view it within the broader context of the Affordable Care Act, experts say.

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Supreme Court to hear Obamacare case over subsidies; could redefine the law – By Tom Howell Jr. – The Washington Times – Friday, November 7, 2014


The Supreme Court will wade into the fight over Obamacare once again, this time deciding whether subsidies tied to the overhaul should be restricted to certain states under a strict reading of the law.

FILE - This April 22, 2104 file photo shows videojournalists setting up outside the Supreme Court in Washington.  The court heard arguments today in the case of John Yates, a fishing boat captain who claims he was wrongly convicted of destroying evidence, namely, the fish, that were under the legal minimum catch size in the Gulf of Mexico. (AP Photo/J. David Ake, File)

FILE – This April 22, 2104 file photo shows videojournalists setting up outside the Supreme Court in Washington. The court heard arguments today in the case of John Yates, a fishing boat captain who claims he was wrongly convicted of destroying evidence, namely, the fish, that were under the legal minimum catch size in the Gulf of Mexico. (AP Photo/J. David Ake, File)

 

Justices announced Friday they would take up King v. Burwell, a case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

The King lawsuit is one of several that says the Obama administrationstretched the meaning of the Affordable Care Act by allowing every health exchange in the nation to dole out premium tax credits to qualified Americans.

At issue is a phrase in the law that says the subsidies are reserved for people who used an exchange “established by the state,” which challengers took to mean the 15 exchange set up by 14 states and the District of Columbia.

“The Supreme Court has the opportunity to reaffirm the principle that the law is what Congress enacts, not what the administration or others wish Congresshad enacted with the benefit of hindsight,” Jonathan Adler, one of the key architects of the legal challenge, said Friday.

The stakes could not be higher for President Obama’s signature health overhaul, just two years after the justices upheld Obamacare and its mandates as constitutional.

If justices do not agree with the Obama administration’s position that every state should enjoy the subsidies, millions of Americans who shopped on Obamacare’s federally run marketplace may no longer be able to afford their premiums.

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