When the Supreme Court last week swatted down a legal challenge that could have crippled a centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s health-care law, it merely kicked the debate back from the legal to the political arena. Conservatives are still determined to fight Obamacare. But now, they’re fighting over how to fight it.
Before we hold a going-out-of-business sale for the rule of law, following Thursday’s King v. Burwell ruling at the Supreme Court, let’s review some between-the-lines highlights. The Scalia dissent already took care of the fundamental analysis of how the Court veered so far off course.
Many opponents of the health law are putting away their legal wrecking balls and reaching for chisels.
Thomas Miller, one of the strategists behind the Supreme Court case that aimed to strike down subsidies on the federal exchange, said he thought he would be celebrating now. But after Thursday’s decision upholding the subsidies, he is setting up meetings to discuss narrower attacks on the Affordable Care Act.
If you thought the legal fight over the health care overhaul was finally over, think again. At least four issues related to the Affordable Care Act still are being sorted out in the courts, although none seems to pose the same threat to the law as the challenge to nationwide subsidies that the court rejected on Thursday, or the constitutional case that the justices decided in favor of the law in 2012.
Obamacare is dead. Long live Robertscare.
With Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell, Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, cemented the Affordable Care Act as the law of the land. Oh, there will still be plenty of legal challenges to it, and there will be an attempt to replace it should a Republican occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in 2017; but for all intents and purposes, the individual and employer mandates, and now the subsidized federal health insurance exchange, are now in concrete.
It’s an established fact of social science, replicated in surveys dating to the Nixon administration, that conservatives are happier than liberals. It stands to reason, then, that liberals whine more than their counterparts on the right. The litany of liberal complaints includes Republicans, Fox News, global warming “deniers,” conservatives’ silly fixation with religious freedom, and the United States Supreme Court.
The GOP’s best chance of knocking down the Affordable Care Act disappeared Thursday when the Supreme Court sided with the administration in King v. Burwell. With the case decided, the Senate could start holding the anti-Obamacare votes leadership said they wanted to attempt when they took the chamber this year.
But with a crowded floor schedule, the prospect of tough amendment votes under regular order and disagreement over what budget reconciliation should be used for, it’s unclear how Republicans will go about taking those votes.
Republican leaders vowed to continue their effort to dismantle Obamacare after the Supreme Court ruled for the Obama administration in King v. Burwell, while acknowledging that repealing and replacing the law is extremely unlikely while President Obama is in office.
The Supreme Court ruling upholding subsidies on the federal health-insurance exchange may prompt state-run exchanges to forge regional networks or use the federal marketplace.
Many of the dozen states operating exchanges under the Affordable Care Act are encountering financial strains, and could join the three dozen states already using the federal marketplace, HealthCare.gov. Some policy experts say it’s possible most of those states will eventually do just that, creating a largely national exchange program.
While most of the reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell has centered on the political victory for the president and the various winners and losers from the decision itself, a more far-reaching consequence has received much less notice. The legal dispute hinged around whether a law means what it says, or means what someone reading later – say, an admistration official – thinks it must have really meant, or prefers it would have meant. More generally, however, the issue raised is whether laws passed by Congress have to be administered as written, or whether a President can change the law it will in whatever what he or she thinks will be better.