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ObamaCare is, once again, headed to the nation's highest court. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments over an IRS rule that granted tax credit subsidies to states that opted not to create an ObamaCare exchange. By granting review, the Supreme Court is going against the wishes of the Obama administration, which had argued that the case, King v. Burwell, should work its way through lower courts:
In the appeal accepted Friday, opponents of the subsidies argued that the court should resolve the issue now because it involves billions of dollars in public money.
The court rarely steps into a case when there is no disagreement among federal appellate courts, unless a law or regulation has been ruled invalid.
But at least four justices, needed to grant review, apparently agreed with the challengers that the issue is important enough to decide now.
When Congress drafted the Affordable Care Act, which most of us know as ObamaCare, it tied the subsidies to "an exchange establishment by the State." Not only does the actual text of the law say that the subsidies are meant for only state-established exchanges, in 2009, then-Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) said as much in a colloquy with then-Sen. Jon Ensign (R-NV). MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, the architect of the law, was even more blunt about the intent, pointing out that the law was written this way to pressure states to participate in ObamaCare. The IRS, however, wrote rules broadly to apply also to the federal exchange, from which consumers from 34 states can purchase coverage.
If the Supreme Court rules that the IRS regulations, it would completely undermine ObamaCare. Consumers would see the true cost of their coverage and they would, probably in large numbers, abandon their health plans, bringing down the law in the process.