Reeling from staggering Democrat losses in the midterm elections, the Obama White House has just been served another heaping helping of bad news — word that the U.S. Supreme Court will take a second close and critical look at the constitutionality of ObamaCare.
The announcement from the high court was something of a surprise, as the decision to hear the case was made by the justices without waiting for a split among federal appeals courts. Court watchers say the decision represents a major victory for opponents of Obama’s healthcare law who had lost a unanimous verdict at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.
We get details on the SCOTUS announcement from USA Today:
The justices agreed without comment to reconsider that ruling, which upheld the law’s system of subsidizing the insurance policies it requires. That’s a setback for the administration and proponents of Obamacare, but it is not the final word.
The controversial program faces four separate lawsuits charging that billions of dollars in subsidies can only be offered in health care exchanges run by states. The federal government operates more than two-thirds of the exchanges.
Opponents mounted the recent set of challenges to the president’s signature legislative achievement based on the specific language of the law. It states that subsidies, offered in the form of tax credits, will be made available through exchanges “established by the state.”
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They contend that nullifies the subsidies offered through the federally operated insurance exchange. Appeals court rulings on these challenges have been at odds with one another.
The justices’ decision Friday shows that they saw no reason to wait for the other rulings before deciding the subsidy issue on their own — and in that sense, it came as a surprise.
More than 5 million Americans would be affected if the subsidies are struck down. They have reduced monthly insurance premiums by 76% for those who qualify, federal health officials say. The average monthly premium dropped from $346 to $82.
The subsidies offered to ObamaCare enrollees are a linchpin of the health care law and help Democrats in their efforts to defend the “affordability” of the highly controversial legislation.
As bloomberg.com points out regarding today’s Supreme Court decision:
A ruling blocking those credits might unravel the Affordable Care Act, making other provisions ineffective and potentially destabilizing insurance markets in much of the country.
The high court’s decision to hear the case comes days before the start of the law’s second open-enrollment season. A decision will come by June.
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