April 15, 2015 Congress just passed a big bipartisan health care bill, overwhelmingly and on a tight timeline. Now, some Democrats might hope the Supreme Court didn’t notice.
Republicans and Democrats defied just about everyone’s expectations by passing a permanent “doc fix” after punting on the issue for more than a decade. Tuesday’s 98-2 vote in the Senate was the kind of thing that isn’t supposed to happen, especially on health care policy, in a gridlocked Congress.
“This bill represents what is possible when members of Congress work together in good faith to accomplish results for the American people, and I am hopeful this is the start of many more bipartisan solutions to come,” Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch said in a statement.
Democrats praised the bill as well, though Kumbaya might not be what they are looking for at the moment—not while Republicans are trying to convince the Supreme Court to blow a massive hole in the Affordable Care Act by promising justices that Congress will be able to patch it up.
The high court is expected to rule this summer on a challenge to Obamacare’s insurance subsidies. A ruling against the Obama administration would unleash tremendous disruption on state insurance markets, and could drive some states’ individual markets to the brink of collapse—unless Republican governors or the Republican-controlled Congress steps in.
WASHINGTON, April 16 – Today the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) released a report by finance expert Scot Vorse that shows many states knew as early as 2011 that they might not receive tax credits if they opted out of establishing a state-based health insurance exchange. Whether nonparticipating states had adequate knowledge that they were putting their Obamacare subsidies at risk is a critical question in CEI’s Supreme Court case, King v. Burwell.
Vorse obtained emails related to a January 2012 letter sent by seven states to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). While Obamacare supporters have dismissed this letter as a “spoof,” these state emails show the letter was a carefully crafted and coordinated effort by the states to get detailed information about the exchanges from HHS.
“Notably, the states explicitly asked HHS to explain what authority it had to administer tax credits on federally established exchanges,” Vorse writes.
The letter was signed by insurance and health officials from Kentucky, Maine, New Mexico, North Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia. In addition, the emails indicate several other states supported the letter. Even though HHS never responded, five of the state signatories chose not to set up state-based insurance exchanges. Virginia’s signature is especially noteworthy, because it contradicts the Supreme Court amicus brief that Virginia later signed in support of the government’s position in King.