Friday, August 1, 2014

Unhealthy Rulings on ObamaCare Subsidies

WASHINGTON, D.C. (PR) — Yesterday, attorneys in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit's Obamacare case, King v. Burwell, requested Supreme Court review of the ruling handed down last week. The case challenged an Internal Revenue Service rule that provided insurance premium subsidies to all states, regardless of whether or not those states chose to establish their own Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance exchanges. Georgia is one of the 36 not participating and residents must enroll directly with the exchange provided by the federal government to buy health insurance. 

The IRS rule was upheld by the Fourth Circuit on July 22, 2014; however, less than two hours before it ruled, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down the rule in a similar case, Halbig v. Burwell.

The Justice Department asked a federal appeals court today to reconsider its July 22 ruling that poses a major setback to the Obamacare health insurance overhaul as it could limit the availability of federal health insurance subsidies for millions of people.

Michael A. Carvin of Jones Day is the lead counsel for the plaintiffs in both cases, who consist of individuals and small business owners. The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) is coordinating and funding the cases.

“From the time these cases were first filed, we’ve tried to get this issue resolved as quickly as possible for the plaintiffs and the millions of individuals like them,” said CEI general counsel Sam Kazman. “A fast resolution is also vitally important to the states that chose not to set up exchanges, to the employers in those states who face either major compliance costs or huge penalties, and to employees who face possible layoffs or reductions in their work hours as a result of this illegal IRS rule. Our petition today to the Supreme Court represents the next step in that process.”

The plaintiffs in the King case argued the Obamacare statute drew a clear distinction between state-established exchanges and those set up by the federal government in nonparticipating states. They contended Congress permitted subsidies only for states with their own exchanges, as a way of encouraging state participation. To the surprise of many, however, 36 states are not participating. 

Two days after the rulings, CEI, a public policy group that advocates for free markets and limited government, also brought to light a 2012 videotape in which one of Obamacare’s chief architects, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor Jonathan Gruber, flatly stated that nonparticipating states would not receive subsidies. This contradicts the current claim by the government: that Congress never intended to withhold subsidies. 

“On Obamacare, last week started with a circuit split and ended with a Jonathan Gruber split. Our hope is the Supreme Court will at least resolve the former,” said Mr. Kazman.

Jonathan Gruber spoke to a Noblis audience on January 18, 2012 
According to Noblis: “Few experts know more about America's dire need of health care reform than Gruber. And of that short list, he is the only one prepared to enter the pages of a comic book to make the case. 

To be clear: Gruber is not an expert; he is "the" expert. An award-winning MIT economist and the director of the Health Care Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, he was a key architect of the ambitious health care reform effort in Massachusetts and is a member of the Health Connector Board now implementing it; in 2006 he was named by "Modern Healthcare" as the nineteenth most powerful person in health care in the United States. 

In 2008 he was a consultant to the Clinton, Edwards, and Obama presidential campaigns. The national legislation passed by Congress in 2009 derives directly from Gruber's insights learned during the Massachusetts health care debate.

Noblis is a unique nonprofit science, technology and strategy organization that works only on projects that improve the public's well being or quality of life. Because we're not tied to any shareholders, sponsors or vendors, we can focus all our energy and brainpower on what matters most: doing the right thing and finding answers that work for our clients and the public good.”

The Petition

—> Edited by Anibal Ibarra

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