SCOTUScare No Longer ‘Just a Law’


This week’s health policy news roundup curated by Jane Orient, M.D.

On the eve of the King v. Burwell decision, in a fervid speech some thought was to designed to cow Supreme Court Justices, Barack Obama said the Affordable Care Act was “no longer just a law,” but “reality” that has been “woven into the fabric of America.” Michael Cannon calls the decision “almost a blanket grant of power” to the President.

The government didn’t believe its own “term of art” argument about “an Exchange established by the State,” writes Cannon in reviewing the legislative history.

The New York Times did its part to inform the Court of what it considered the correct decision to leave the law untouched—and to make Jonathan Gruber disappear.

Chief Justice Roberts joined with the Left side of the Court to save the law by rewriting it again, making it SCOTUScare, in the words of Justice Scalia’s coruscating dissent.

“The dissent appeared to hint at something behind the scenes,” suggested Bob Inruh. Scalia writes: “Under all the usual rules of interpretation,… the government should lose this case. But normal rules of interpretation seem always to yield to the overriding principle of the present court: The Affordable Care Act must be saved.”

SCOTUS has made itself into a “superbranch” of government, writes Bob Ellis.

While Republicans are publicly castigating the Court, some may be secretly relieved because they can avoid playing “subsidy can-kick.”

The Court’s action will enable them to keep blaming Democrats.

And it might benefit them in the next election.

Republican can-kick proposals amounted to abdication, writes John Goodman.

The American College of Physicians (ACP) applauded the decision, as did the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). The “decision enables patients to take control of their health and address problems at the earliest, most treatable stages,” stated AOA president Robert S. Juhasz, D.O.

But ObamaCare isn’t any more “here to stay” now than it was before the decision, writes Avik Roy. “The law increased individual-market premiums by 49 percent in the average county, in its first year alone. Since, then many states are facing additional double-digit rate hikes…. As you go up the income scale, Obamacare’s subsidies aren’t large enough to make up for the law’s steep premium hikes.”

One unintended consequence is that SCOTUS may have killed State-based Exchanges. Why continue a dysfunctional system when subsidies are available without it, asks Matt Vespa.

Members of AMAC recount their personal stories of premium hikes and diminished care.

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