ObamaCare’s Next Act: King v. Burwell
King v. Burwell? Never heard of it? You may soon.
On March 4 the Supreme Court will hear the case. The question before the justices is: What did Congress really mean when it wrote the ObamaCare law?
You know, the erroneously-named “Affordable Care Act” (ACA), aka ObamaCare. The Abortion-Is-Essential-Health-Care, Permanent-Funding-of-Planned-Parenthood-Through-Sex-Clinics-in-Schools Act, the source of the HHS Mandate-to Destroy-Religious-Freedom-by-Denying-Rights-of-Conscience Act.
Yes, that ACA. The monstrosity that has changed the political and economic face of the nation in the past six years. The law that “had to be passed so we could find out what was in it.”
Currently the pro-life movement must engage in a great deal of defensive action because ObamaCare covers abortions in most of its insurance plans. The HHS Mandate—issued under the ACA—requires pro-life employers to subsidize abortions and abortifacient drugs. The subsidies to Planned Parenthood continue to stoke the demand for abortion and finance the most bitter enemies of the pro-life cause.
The devil is in the details in this case—and the money is in the details. King v. Burwell challenges how the U.S. Treasury and the IRS have interpreted the Affordable Care Act. ObamaCare is prohibitively expensive. Forget the dishonest memes of “If you like your health plan, you can keep it,” and “This is going to cost less than your current health insurance.”
The simple fact is that most people who now have ObamaCare could not afford it unless they were being subsidized. The text of the Act allows federal subsidies for state-run healthcare exchanges. But only 14 states have set up such exchanges.
Early on, Obamacrats at the IRS realized that in order for ObamaCare to be “affordable,” the federal government would have to subsidize it all. So, since the beginning of its implementation, the IRS has ignored that detail of the law and has allowed the federal government to subsidize healthcare purchased on federal exchanges as well.
Those subsidies run anywhere from $5,000 to $14,000 a year for a family of four whose annual income is from $30,000 to $92,000. Eventually somebody noticed that the IRS regulation does not square with the law as it is written. Hence, this lawsuit.
So the real question is: Who will be doing the subsidizing? It’s taxpayers, to be sure, but should it be state taxpayers or federal taxpayers?
The Court could decide to play Alice-in-Wonderland and declare that “The words mean what Obama wants them to mean.” In which case, the decision, when it comes, might not even merit mention on the evening news.
But if the Court decides to interpret the law the way the bill was actually written, it could be headlines for days. If the federal funding currently keeping ObamaCare afloat in 36 states were to be ruled not legal, 13 million people in 36 states might lose their subsidies . . . and their insurance. That might provoke a true crisis.
How desperate might the situation be? If more than half the country were suddenly to be rendered uninsured, it could be pretty desperate.
If that happened, those 36 state legislatures might still have the option of setting up health-care exchanges in order to keep the current stream of federal subsidies—and keep the national health insurance system functioning. Of course, some of those states already have decided not to set up exchanges. Many may be out of session by the time the Court rules, so the atmosphere could be one of near panic.
Many states still have citizen legislatures—in which the lawmakers are real people, with real jobs, who spend only part of their time running other peoples’ lives. They are not accustomed to dealing with the exorbitant pressure the White House and the enormous health-care lobby would be able to bring to bear on them.
If the Supreme Court upholds the language of the misnamed “Affordable Care Act,” and abolishes the federal subsidies, these ordinary men and women just might find themselves deciding the future of 60% of the national economy—as well as voting on regulations governing abortion clinics and waiting periods and pain-capable infant protection laws.
At the very least, King v. Burwell should teach legislators in Congress to read bills before they vote on them.
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Connie Marshner has been a pro-life, pro-family researcher, grassroots trainer, organizer, and lobbyist; manager; writer; homeschooler; editor; campaign adviser; coalition leader; fundraiser; and political strategist. She is absolutely thrilled now to be a blogger for Human Life Review.