Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Halbig Ruling

Big legal news on ObamaCare. Here's a good description from Jonathan Adler, "D.C. Circuit strikes down tax credits in federal exchanges":
This morning the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit released its much awaited opinion in Halbig v. Burwell.  In a 2-1 opinion, the Court held that the Internal Revenue Service regulation authorizing tax credits in federal exchanges was invalid.

Judge Griffith, writing for the court, concluded, “the ACA unambiguously restricts the section 36B subsidy to insurance purchased on Exchanges ‘established by the State.”  In other words, the court reaffirmed the principle that the law is what Congress enacts — the text of the statute itself — and not the unexpressed intentions or hopes of legislators or a bill’s proponents...

Although this decision is faithful to the text of the PPACA – that is, faithful to the text Congress actually enacted, as opposed to the health care reform some wanted or now wish they had gotten — it will provoke howls of outrage from ACA supporters.
On the other hand, William Jacobson notes: "4th Circuit upholds Obamacare federal exchange subsidy after D.C. Circuit rejects".  And related thoughts from Adler.

Given this split, the issue will almost certainly end up in the US Supreme Court.

(I also expect that many on the political Left to argue that this shows why the patchwork kludge of ObamaCare should be replaced by a simpler "single-payer" system.)