5 Takeaways from the Supreme Court's Obamacare Subsidies Ruling in King v. Burwell
Chief Justice John Roberts rewrote the law in order to save it – again.
The law states explicitly and repeatedly that subsidies are only available in exchanges established by a State – and it defines State to mean the 50 states plus the District of Columbia. Roberts decided, essentially, that the phrase "established by a State" actually meant "established by a State OR the federal government."
This resembles the Supreme Court's 2012 Obamacare decision — also written by Roberts—which declared that individual mandate was illegal under the Constitution's Commerce Clause, but permissible if reimagined as a tax.
Roberts practically admitted that he believes he has a duty to save the law.
His decision declares that Congress didn't intend adverse effects from its reforms of the health insurance market, and, as a result, demands that the Court "interpret" the law so as not to cause any policy impact. Essentially he's saying that it's the court's duty to prevent any potentially bad thing from happening as a result of the law, regardless of how it's written.
This was not judicial deference.
Roberts opinion is framed as a form of deference to Congress. But what he actually did was take a law that Congress wrote and decide exactly what it meant.
Roberts decision largely preserves the status quo.
At its most basic, this was a decision not to change anything about the way the law works right now. The subsidies will continue. Nothing has to change as a direct result of this ruling.
It paves the way for struggling state-based exchanges to migrate to the federal exchange.
Right now, a lot of the state-run exchanges are having trouble with technology and with funding. Those states now have a clear legal path to join with the federal government's exchange in full or in part
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Written and hosted by Peter Suderman. Video by Meredith Bragg.
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