Federal appeals court strikes down key part of Obamacare

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Please chip in to my Paypal account at Darksydothemoon-at-aol-com if you can. My circumstances are dire and getting worse. Here’s just the latest example of the many ways rich, conservative nutjobs are methodically destroying the lives of people like me: The ACA may be heading back to the Supreme Court after an appeals court struck down a key component of the law today. The decision could have lethal consequences for millions of people currently insured individually or under their employers’ plan:

NBC News — In a potentially lethal blow to Obamacare, a federal appeals court has ruled that the federal government may not subsidize health insurance plans bought by people in states that decided not to set up their own marketplaces under the health care law.

The law clearly says that states are to set up the exchanges. But 34 states opted not to, and the federal government took over in those states. The court ruled that the federal government may not pay subsidies for insurance plans in those states.

“We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance,” District of Columbia Appeals Court judge Thomas Griffith writes in the 2-1 ruling, which the federal government will appeal.

Full decision in Halbig vs Burwell here  (Download warning). Short versions, over 30 conservative states refused to set up healthcare exchanges and that brutal decision was upheld by the SCOTUS last year. So the federal government stepped in to fill that gap with exchanges for the millions of people who were bring screwed. This decision threatens those people’s access to healthcare. It threatens all of them, not just the poor and struggling.

NBC News –But the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond took the opposite point of view, saying the subsidies are legal. … The decisions change nothing right away. “People getting premium tax credits should know that nothing has changed. Tax credits remain available,” said Department of Justice spokeswoman Emily Pierce. Years of more court action likely lie ahead before the matter is settled.

“You don’t need a fancy legal degree to understand that Congress intended for every eligible American to have access to tax credits that would lower their health care costs, regardless of whether it was state officials or federal officials who were running the marketplace,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. “I think that was a pretty clear intent of the congressional law.”

The decision doesn’t change anything right away. But down the road, the nearly five million people and counting who bought polices on the federal exchange may join the tens of millions of poor people who were denied coverage under the Medicaid expansion — people like me for example — thanks to conservative governors anxious to fuck over as many working class people as possible. Conservatives incessantly whining about liberty and freedom and corporate personhood are today licking their chops at the prospect of making it illegal for millions of people to buy health insurance from corporations eager to sell it to them.

The issue was decided by a small, three judge panel at the DC circuit and will now go to the full panel. Depending on that outcome, it could go to the Supreme Court.  Which means the life and limb of millions of working class citizens may soon depend on the tender mercies of the Robert’s Court. My understanding is, If the ruling is upheld by the full DC panel, all the SCOTUS has to do is pass on it and this ruling will stand.


  1. Kevin Kehres says

    Is it too late to surrender to England? That whole “Revolutionary War” thing seems to be something of a mistake.

  2. roggg says

    I know this may sound radical, but why not elect people who give a crap if you live or die? Just throwing that out there…

  3. says

    I don’t know if you’re overseas Rogg, but that’s a good question and one that’s been covered fairly well by better authors than me. The short answer is there’s been tons of right-wing money made available for a campaign to marry culture war issues of import to the grassroots religious right, often summed up as god, guns, and gays, to economic policies benefiting the very wealthy. And they’ve been successful in tricking enough regular people to vote against their own economic interests that they’ve gained significant influence.

    There is no career path or not much of one for people like me who are on the side of ‘good’. I write for one of the most successful progressive blogs, now over a million hits a day, on the toobz and I make small change, maybe 200 to 300 bucks total a month in a good month (Last month I made about fifty dollars). I have counterparts on the political right and in the anti-science movement who make ten times that or more with a fraction of the traffic because they’re heavily subsidized.

  4. Crimson Clupeidae says

    Hi Stephen, do you have the case number/name, or a link? I’m very curious what the reasoning would be for not allowing the fed gov to step in and subsidize someone just because they have the misfortune of living in a state run by idiots (and sadly, several of my favorite states are run by mostly idiots).

    See Halbig vs Burwell (Download warning) — DS

  5. busterggi says

    Oh hell, they’re red states – they don’t want to be healthy or even part of the US anyway. Make them happy and let them die, they”d do that for you.

  6. says

    I am pretty sure that the supreme court wouldn’t even in their obvious blunder of the Hobby Lobby case consider that taking away health care for millions would ever be acceptable. But hey… I could be wrong. Maybe they want to see thousands of Americans brought into poverty because of outrageous medical costs. I sure hope there is enough sanity in government to avoid another major failure to protect citizens against injustice. But I won’t hold my breath.

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