ObamaCare: The year ahead
The Affordable Care Act is headed back to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015.
News surrounding the president’s signature health-insurance overhaul was seemingly sparse in 2014, at least compared to the previous year.
After a disastrous launch in the fall of 2013, the drive to “get covered” recovered in early 2014, and the healthcare.gov website was functional for its second open enrollment period, which began in November. But the seemingly smooth open enrollment period this time around could be the calm before the storm.
That’s because the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, is headed back to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015.
The high court has agreed to consider hearing a legal challenge to ObamaCare, King v. Burwell. Oral arguments will take place in March and a decision is expected this summer.
While this challenge would not entirely undo the ACA, it would significantly undo the health-insurance law in the 34 states that have not established state-funded health-insurance exchanges. At issue is what the plain text of the law says – and means. Even though the text of the law states that the subsidies are available only “through an Exchange established by the State under 1311 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” the IRS, without congressional authorization, allowed federal subsidies to flow into states participating in the federal exchange when it implemented the law.
A Supreme Court ruling striking down the IRS subsidies in states that have not established a state-funded exchange would provide much-needed relief to employers and employees. If the subsidies were ultimately struck down, the IRS would not have the ability to subject more than 250,000 employers (employing 57 million Americans) and 8.3 million individuals to IRS penalties under the ACA.
The goal for health-care reform should always be to restore a truly free market that also provides accessible, high-quality and affordable care. Congressional lawmakers, as well as state lawmakers, should take this opportunity to pass meaningful health-care reform in a way that respects taxpayers, provides for the truly needy and addresses health-care costs – delivering on the original ObamaCare promises.