Conservatives Continue To Use The Court To Dismantle The Affordable Care Act
Earlier this week amicus briefs were due for King v. Burwell¸ the Supreme Court case which threatens to cause a meltdown in the health care system. If the Supreme Court rules against the law, tax credits for health insurance offered through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces in approximately three dozen states would be eliminated. This case, as we have written in the past, is a thinly veiled attempt by ideologically-motivated conservatives to repeal the Affordable Care Act, despite the overwhelming evidence that the law is working.
Simply put, conservatives have no ground to stand on in making their argument—the text of the law is simply at odds with the plaintiffs’ view. Their case is so shaky, in fact, that many prominent conservatives who are fighting against the law have previously undercut their own arguments:
- In a 2013 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Gov. Scott Walker said he spent nearly two years studying the law, and found there is no functional difference between a federal and state exchange, “[b]ut, in the end, there’s no real substantive difference between a federal exchange, or a state exchange, or the in between, the hybrid, the partnership.”
- Sen. Orrin Hatch was one of six Republicans to file an amicus brief in favor of gutting the law. Yet the brief directly contradicts an op-ed Hatch co-wrote in 2010 in which he wrote that a state establishing its own exchange, “[i]s not a condition for receiving federal funds, which would still leave some kind of choice to the states.”
- The Heritage Foundation has supported the challengers in King v. Burwell, despite the fact that they wrote an entire white paper on the basis that subsidies would be available to any enrollee. According to that paper, “whoever controls the AHB exchange,” tax credits will be available.
Recently, the challengers in this case have turned to Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) to substantiate their case because during debates on the law he insisted that states should take the lead on establishing exchanges. But Sen. Nelson, now retired, set the record straight saying: “I always believed that tax credits should be available in all 50 states regardless of who built the exchange, and the final law also reflects that belief as well.”
Much more than a political victory rests on the decision of this case. Stripping premium tax credits from all eligible individuals enrolled in a federal marketplace would have dire consequences. Here are just a few examples:
- The non-partisan Urban Institute estimates that 8 million people would lose health coverage.
- Health insurance companies and hospitals have said stopping subsidies in 34 states “would create severely dysfunctional insurance markets,” and “[i]t would leave consumers in those States with a more unstable market and far higher costs than if the ACA had not been enacted.”
- Public health experts estimate that 9,800 preventable deaths will occur each year if the Supreme Court rules against the Affordable Care Act.
BOTTOM LINE: King v. Burwell is an ideologically-charged case whose real-world implications are much more serious than political gain. Many conservatives arguing against the law have undercut their argument in the past, showing the weakness of their own case. Conservatives should stop playing politics with the livelihood of the American people. The well-being and financial stability of millions of Americans is much more important that partisan politics.
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