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Just when you thought this week's good news couldn't get any better…
The Supreme Court has snatched the Halbig case out from the clutches of Obama's lefty-packed D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
How big a deal is this?
As in, earth-shattering kaboom huge.
The Supreme Court, moving back into the abiding controversy over the Affordable Care Act, agreed early Friday afternoon to decide how far the federal government can extend its program of subsidies to buyers of health insurance. At issue is whether the program of tax credits applies only in the consumer marketplaces set up by sixteen states, and not at federally operated sites in thirty-four states.
Some of this stuff is real inside baseball, but it's important, so bear with me. SCOTUS only intervenes when there are split decisions at the circuit court level. In King v Burwell the Fourth Circuit upheld the subsidies. But at the same time, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit court disagreed.
It was a Category Five ObamaCare tornado in July when a three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit agreed with conservatives and ruled that the text of the O-Care statute does not allow subsidies for people who bought their policies on the federal exchange, i.e. Healthcare.gov. Only if you bought your policy through an exchange created by a state are you eligible for help from Uncle Sam. That ruling is a nuclear bomb for the White House, obviously, because it would mean that the vast majority of new enrollees in O-Care would suddenly be on the hook for the full cost of their premiums. That would prove too expensive for many of those people, which would mean lots of dropped coverage and total chaos in the insurance industry.
It looked like Obamacare was heading back to the Supreme Court, when six weeks later the full D.C. Circuit decided to rehear the case en banc, throwing the three-judge panel's ruling out the window.
Why would they do that? Because Obama packed the D.C. circuit court with a legion of far-left ideologues guaranteed to rule his way. You can thank Harry Reid nuking the Senate for helping him do that. Normally republicans would have been able to filibuster the most radical nominees, but they were rendered powerless by Reid.
The Halbig challenge to Obamacare was, apparently, dead.
Until today. SCOTUS' action cuts the en banc D.C. circuit out of the loop, sending Obama and Reid's court-packing scheme up in flames, and putting the future of Obamacare very much in doubt.
Because if SCOTUS was going to rule for the subsidies they didn't have to do anything. The D.C. circuit court would do it for them, reversing Halbig and concurring with the Fourth Circuit's King decision. No circuit split means no SCOTUS review, and no SCOTUS review means the subsidies remain intact.
The only reason for SCOTUS to review King is if there's a good chance they will reverse the ruling. Ergo the likelyhood is extremely high that the Supreme Court will enforce the clear wording of the law, and render the subsidies in all but 16 states null and void.
Without those subsidies, Obamacare is dead.
Are you still with me? Because here's where it gets fun.
The GOP won the Senate on Tuesday partly by vigorously campaigning against Obamacare. There is a strong desire among many republicans to repeal the law. But Obama would never sign a repeal bill, right?
So suppose SCOTUS neuters the law, and effectively repeals it for them. Then, instead of sending Obama a repeal, the GOP sends him a replacement, one that perhaps restores subsidies for federal exchange enrollees, but also eliminates all of the law's onerous and questionably-Constitutional provisions, and includes the free-market reforms we've been trying to enact for years.
Does Obama dare veto it?
Stay tuned, this is gonna be good.
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