Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The New York Times blows a hole in the case against Obamacare

Updated by Ezra Klein on May 27, 2015, 11:20 a.m. ET, VOX

There are basically two versions of the looming Supreme Court case against Obamacare. One of them makes sense but doesn't pose enough of a threat to Obamacare to satisfy Republicans. The other poses a real threat to Obamacare, but it's never made much sense — and the New York Times just blew a hole right through the middle of it.

The version that makes some sense goes like this: section 1311 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is poorly worded, and if you read it completely out of context it seems to say the law's tax credits are only available in state-run exchanges.

The problem for Republicans, as law professor Nicholas Bagley has written, is that the Supreme Court isn't going to gut Obamacare over a grammar dispute. The Court is deferential to other branches of government, so the bar for reinterpreting a law like Obamacare is high; the plaintiffs will basically have to prove that the statute is worded unambiguously and "the IRS’s contrary interpretation is downright unreasonable." But basically everything else in the bill makes clear that the IRS's interpretation is reasonable — and, frankly, correct. So simply arguing that Congress made a drafting error won't get Republicans where they want to go.

Which brings us to the second case against Obamacare, the one Republicans came up with later on: section 1311 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is worded perfectly. It was always Congress's intent to deny subsidies to federally run exchanges, no matter how much damage that would cause to state insurance markets, and no matter how firmly at odds that seems to be with a law dedicated to covering the uninsured.

(More here.)


Blogger Tom Koch said...

Perhaps Gruber can help our President bs his way through this mess.

7:49 AM  

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