A federal appeals court dealt Obamacare another blow—Obama’s subsidies are illegal.
Dan Mangan – CNBC
This is a breaking news story. Please check back to the link above for updates.
In a potentially crippling blow to Obamacare, a top federal appeals court Tuesday said that billions of dollars worth of government subsidies that helped 4.7 million people buy insurance on HealthCare.gov are not legal under the Affordable Care Act.
In its decision, a three-judge panel said that such subsidies can be granted only to people who bought insurance in an Obamacare exchange run by an individual state or the District of Columbia — not on the federally run exchange HealthCare.gov. Plaintiffs in the case known as Halbig v. Burwell argued that the ACA, as written, only allows that often-significant financial aid to be issued to people who bought insurance on a marketplace set up by a state.
The decision is certain to be challenged by the Obama Administration, and does not immediately have the effect of law. But if it is ultimately upheld, it would cause insurance rates for those people who lost the subsidies to dramatically rise.
HealthCare.gov serves residents of the 36 states that did not create their own health insurance marketplace. About 86 percent of its 5.45 million customers received a subsidy to offset the cost of their coverage this year because they had low or moderate incomes.
In a report issued Thursday, the consultancy Avalere Health said that if those subsidies were removed this year from the 4.7 million people who received them in HealthCare.gov states, their premiums would have been an average of 76 percent higher in price than what they are paying now.
Before the decision, a leading Obamacare expert who was firmly opposed to the plantiffs’ arguments said a ruling in their favor could have major consequences for the health-care reform law.
“If the courts were to decide that the Halbig plaintiffs were right, it would be a huge threat to the ACA,” said that expert,Timothy Jost, a professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law.
On Monday, one of the intellectual godfathers of the argument that is the basis of the Halbig case, as well as three other similar pending court challenges, said that tens of millions of people would be freed from Obamacare mandates in the affected states if the challenges prevailed.
Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, said more than 250,000 firms in those states—which have about 57 million workers—would not be subject to the employer mandate being phased in starting next year. That rule, which hinges on the availability of subsidies on Obamacare exchanges, will compel employers with 50 or more full-time workers to offer affordable health insurance or pay a fine.
The crucial point to this court decision is in the last paragraph above—no subsidies, no employer mandate. If the employer mandate is declared illegal, then why would anyone want to stay in the program…Obamacare…if their rates go up an estimated 76%?
The decision is bad news for Obama, his sycophants and Obamacare.
Dave Helling, writing in the Kansas City “Red” Star laments on the lack of discussion about issues in the upcoming Primary two weeks from today. Helling’s lament was echoed in the PoliticMO newsletter this morning.
AUGUST BALLOT — “After dragging for months, the primary is now just two weeks away,’ Dave Helling previews in the KC Star: “That deadline does not seem to have quickened the pace of local campaigns, however. They seem slightly listless, as if the voters’ verdict is still months in the future. Missouri’s three-fourths cent sales tax for transportation improvements has probably drawn the most interest. It would be the largest tax hike in state history. But where’s the campaign? Normally, two weeks out, you would see tax supporters holding news conferences at crumbling bridges. Ads would suck up TV time. Letters to the editor would extol (or denounce) the proposal. Have you seen much of this? I haven’t, either. …
“Sluggish campaigns lead to low turnout. … In most years, “no” voters are more motivated and a small turnout would endanger the tax. But it’s also possible the quiet campaign has helped tamp down anti-tax fervor in Missouri. In either case, it’s probably too late for consultants to reconfigure their campaigns. It’s going to be hard to awaken voters in the next two weeks after putting many of them to sleep over the last six months.” — KC Star.
Perhaps Mr. Helling should look at his own editorial board for that lack of interest. If stories aren’t reported, the great unwashed, i.e., those who only get their news from that liberal Kansas City rag, are unaware of those issues. It makes me wonder if the average denizen of Kansas City is even aware an election is scheduled two weeks from today. Don’t blame any apparent lack of interest of the lack of substance in the issues, Mr. Helling. Blame those like the KC Star editorial board for down-playing those issues hoping that a low turnout will allow the tax increase in Amendment 7 to pass. The KC Star hasn’t yet seen a tax increase it didn’t like.