Liberty-minded folks should take heart that the fight against Obamacare and for health care freedom is far from over. Two conflicting appeals court rulings were handed down today which show that the Affordable Care Act is not settled law by any stretch of the imagination.
In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled that the tax subsidies which make the insurance premiums on the Obamacare exchanges affordable to average Americans are only permissible in states with state-based exchanges and not in those states using the federal exchange.
Within hours of the DC court’s ruling, the 4th Circuit Court based in Richmond, Virginia ruled 3-0 in a separate case that the subsidies are allowable on the federal exchange.
Two additional cases concerning the Obamacare subsidies in Indiana and Oklahoma are working their way through the federal courts.
The cases hinge on the qualifying language in the Affordable Care Act which clearly states that the subsidies are available “in an exchange established by the state.” The IRS issued a ruling, however, that the subsidies would be available for all exchanges. The DC Circuit was unwilling to grant the IRS sufficient latitude on this issue given the plain language of the statute.
Bloomberg quotes the opinion of Judge Thomas Griffin of the DC Circuit,
The law “unambiguously forecloses the interpretation embodied in the IRS rule and instead limits the availability of premium tax credits to state-established exchanges.”
“Our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly. But high as those stakes are, the principle of legislative supremacy that guides us is higher still.”
For those of us tired of the myriad of unconstitutional delays and changes made to the Affordable Care Act by the Obama administration, Judge Griffin’s words are a welcome relief.
To put the “stakes” as Griffin calls them into perspective, only 14 states and the District of Columbia set up state-based exchanges, while 36 states use the federal health care exchange. Bloomberg reports that of the 8 million people who signed up for Obamacare to date, 5.4 million selected a plan in the federal marketplace and 85% of all Obamacare enrollees are eligible for tax subsidies.
The National Journal reports that an Urban Institute study projects that 7.3 million people would lose out on $36.1 billion in health care subsidies by 2016 if the courts rule against the Obama administration.
Without these subsidies, the law becomes unaffordable to most Americans and that is why the mainstream media is using terms like “lethal blow” to describe the DC court’s ruling.
That a split exists between the DC Circuit and the 4th Circuit over the issue of Obamacare subsidies may lead one to conclude that the U.S. Supreme Court will take the case up in the fall. However, whether the split remains has yet to be seen. The Obama administration is expected to ask for a review of the DC Circuit’s opinion before the full Court of Appeals.
The DC Circuit’s ruling today accomplishes a lot for the millions of Americans who oppose Obamacare. It gives them hope that the fight for health care freedom is still alive and that some sanity will return to the execution of our constitutional republic by returning legislative authority to the legislature. But most of all, it exposes the lie that is the “Affordable” in the Affordable Care Act.
A full 85 percent of Americans participating in Obamacare can only “afford” to do so as a result of a government hand-out, carefully wrapped up and adorned with the title, “tax subsidy.” Obamacare only works by putting all but 15% of its participants on the government dole.
A free society cannot exist under these terms as more and more people are relegated and subjugated to Obamacare. And a robust economy that fuels innovation and new capital in all market sectors including health care, will gradually slow to a grinding halt when the financial burden of such a system becomes too great.
So the stakes are high when it comes to the “Affordable” Care Act and its tax subsidies. The matter comes down to individual liberty, and for most Americans, there is no higher stake than that.