LETTER OF THE LAW COMES BACK TO BITE BARACK …
Last November, guest columnist Nathan Mehrens of Americans for Limited Government wrote that “President Obama’s socialized medicine law has a big problem on its hands – something much more serious than a botched website or a broken political promise.”
He was referring to the Halbig v. Sebilius case, in which the ability of U.S. President Barack Obama’s signature legislation to disburse roughly $700 billion in subsidies in nearly three dozen states was challenged.
The basis of that challenge? That Obamacare – which its namesake keeps changing on the fly – explicitly limited the availability of these subsidies “through an Exchange established by the State.”
Thirty-six states rejected such state-run exchanges … only fourteen adopted them.
“If Obamacare is to be taken at its word – then the law’s subsidies and penalties do not apply in two-thirds of the country ,” Mehrens wrote. “And if that’s the case, then Obamacare is a ‘Dead Law Walking’ – incapable of sustaining itself without hundreds of billions of dollars in deficit spending.”
Well guess what …
In a surprise 2-1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled against the government in the Halbig case (now dubbed Halbig v. Burwell ) – arguing that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) exceeded its authority by extending subsidies through the federally run exchange.
“We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance,” the court wrote. “At least until states that wish to can set up Exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for the millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal Exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly.”
Obama’s administration immediately announced its intention to appeal the decision – which has the potential to sink the massive socialized medicine legislation under the weight of hundreds of billions of dollars in new deficit spending.
A “potentially lethal blow” is how NBC described it.
How many people does the ruling impact? According to health care policy analyst Michael Cannon of The Cato Institute, the ruling frees “8.3 million individuals from (Obamacare)’s individual mandate.”
“Left-leaning groups and media outlets that defend the IRS are attempting to portray a potential ruling for the Halbig plaintiffs as catastrophic, because it would put an end to the subsidies roughly 5 million individuals enrolled in federal Exchanges are currently receiving,” Cannon wrote just prior to the ruling. “As I explain in detail, those commenters ignore three crucial facts. One, a victory for the Halbig plaintiffs would increase no one’s premiums. It would merely stop the IRS from unlawfully shifting the cost of those overly expensive PPACA premiums from enrollees to taxpayers. Two, if federal-Exchange enrollees lose subsidies, it is because the courts will have found those subsidies are, and always were, illegal . And three, if the Halbig plaintiffs prevail, the winners in the 36 states with federal Exchanges would outnumber the losers by more than ten to one.”
With this case headed for the U.S. Supreme Court, we will soon find out once and for all whether chief justice John Roberts is still in the tank for Obamacare …
UPDATE: Obama administration to defy court ruling.