Supreme Court to hear Obamacare subsidies case

(Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Friday to hear a legal challenge to a key part of the Obamacare health law which, if successful, would deprive millions of Americans of tax-credit subsidies to help them afford health insurance coverage.

In a one-sentence order, the court said it would take up a case brought by conservative challengers of the law, the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. healthcare in decades and President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy accomplishment.

The Supreme Court will issue a ruling by the end of June in the case, in which the plaintiffs have appealed a July ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld the subsidies.

Some legal scholars are predicting that SCOTUS taking this up is a sign that the government is about to lose again.

I’m not so sure on that, but we’ll see.

Will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

Indeed. Although I am not a fan of Obama or Obamacare, a ruling for the plaintiff in this case will be like a stake through the heart of the ACA. Unfortunately, our whole healthcare system has been reshaped by the ACA and operates on the assumption that the ACA is in force. If it were to disappear with the stroke of a pen, the whole system will come down like a house of cards. Millions of people will suddenly be unable to afford insurance. And what about the subsidies that, suddenly ruled illegal, have already been paid? Is the government going to try to claw them back? This has the potential be get real ugly.

This is what happens when a questionable law is rushed through the legislative process before anyone really knows what’s in it. Eventually, someone will discover that it’s riddled with errors. At the same time, this is also what happens when politically motivated ideologues want to tear down the law with no regard for what’s going to replace it.

I predict that the subsidies will be found illegal, effectively gutting the ACA, and leaving our healthcare system in a state of chaos.

I was under the impression this was a state-by-state thing, and that many governors or state legislators already opted out.

Interesting timing, I must say.

Many states opted out of making their own exchange. This case is about whether the language of the PPACA is such that the subsidies can only be paid to residents of the states that made their own exchanges. So, this could mean that residents in every state except for: California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington State (and maybe West Virginia, Oregon, New Hampshire, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Delaware, and Arkansas [they have State/Federal partner sites]) can NOT receive health insurance subsidies. So they would have to pay the full price out of pocket. I think I heard it would be like 5 million of the 8 million Obamacare signups.

It will be interesting to see what happens.
I wish we could get rid of the whole obamacare thing-especiallt the individual mandate! I don’t find it affordable and didn’t get it.

Per Supreme Court, I believe it’s called a tax, not a mandate. Otherwise it would have been struck down the first time around.

If it’s the subsidies, I would hope at least the websites told them in advance they may not get them. It’s not wise to promise something that cannot be delivered.

A mandate means you have to have it unless you get insurance through your employer correct?

I think you mean penalty, not mandate. It is a mandate. The ACA requires everyone to carry insurance or face additional taxes (aka penalty. One of the reasons it was deemed a tax and not a penalty was because of the amount which the court deemed negligible.

If the Supreme Court says it is illegal and the money has to be paid back, the insusrance companies will be very unhappy. They are the ones whom the money was sent to, not the individuals ‘receiving’ the subsidies.

That’s not how it works. The government paid the insurance companies on behalf of individuals who, if SCOTUS shoots down the subsidies, would be the ones responsible for reimbursing the government for the money spent on their behalf.

The subsidies are advanced income tax credits. If you take something you aren’t entitled to, you get to pay it back. :shrug: Some people are likely to find this out come tax time.

However, I would bet that the government would forgive that debt if SCOTUS rules against the government.

There are a bunch of other consequences as well for the states without exchanges. The government couldn’t penalize companies for not providing insurance and more individuals would be exempt from having insurance since premiums would probably be higher than the 7% cutoff for most people.

In a newly surfaced video, one of Obamacare’s architects admits a “lack of transparency” helped the Obama administration and congressional Democrats pass the Affordable Care Act. The conservative group American Commitment posted Jonathan Gruber’s remarks, reportedly from an Oct. 17, 2013, event, on YouTube.

“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” says the MIT economist who helped write Obamacare. “And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass.”

True, it is a mandate and a penalty in the semantic sense, but the Supreme Court (or at least Justice Roberts) ruled it constitutional (or at least not unconstitutional) on the basis of Congress’ ability to tax. (As opposed to Congress’ ability to regulate interstate commerce.) Had Obamacare been written to put people in jail, for example, it may not have been ruled constitutional.

Also the use of the term mandate here might be confusing for those following the rulings on the insurance companies to cover contraceptives and such. I believe that’s an executive order issue.

It is confusing. There are multiple mandates in the ACA. Ones for individuals, ones for employers, ones for insurance companies, etc.

Poltical jargon should qualify as a foreign language.

I suspect the government would take the money back from the insurance companies, than the insurance companies would have to try to get it back from the people they insured. Either way, the insurance companies are not going to be happy. And as we all know, if corporations aren’t happy, then nobody is happy.

I have a feeling if the government tries to wrestle money from insurance companies they will be fighting over it in court. :slapfight:

Right. And the state insurance regulators will be right up there too. I wouldn’t be surprised if they make them raise future premiums to the roof.

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