Let the Affordable Care Act repeal efforts begin (again)
Supreme Court's second OK of Obamacare ends legal, not political fights
It's official. The Supreme Court of the United States loves Obamacare.
OK. So maybe the justices, or at least a majority of them, don't love the Affordable Care Act, as the controversial health care act is officially known. But they couldn't find a legal reason to kill it. Again.
Tax geeks probably recall, about this time back in 2012, that it was the tax component that led the court then, by a 5-4 decision, to let the ACA stand.
This time, Justice Anthony Kennedy joined his colleagues Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, as well as Chief Justice John Roberts -- the ACA Six -- in giving the health care law a second legal stamp of approval.
Those six top jurists, as noted in the opinion authored by Roberts, agreed that the tax subsidies that help folks buy health insurance, or what the Internal Revenue Service calls the premium tax credit, apply to individuals who use both state exchanges and the federal marketplace.
"Congress wrote the law to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them," wrote Roberts. "If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter."
The president obviously is thrilled, despite the serious faces he and the veep wore during a Rose Garden statement (video above) on the Supreme Court decision.
And anti-Obamacare forces also are happy. Really, despite their vehement denunciations of the High Court's latest health care ruling.
Believe me, they have to say that. But it's 99 percent political, 1 percent legislative.
They all know that if, as I've noted before, the House and Senate would put aside their partisan acrimony and clean up the messy language, which happens in every bill, we wouldn't have wasted our and the courts' time.
That's how things used to work not that long ago. For real. I was there in Washington, D.C., during such halcyon days. I saw it happen.
Good news for all: But despite the contorted route it took and televised reactions to the contrary, today's Supreme Court ruling gives most people what they want when it comes to the Affordable Care Act.
Folks who were forced to use the federal marketplace to buy health care because they live in a state with a stubborn, hyper-partisan governor -- and yes, Texas, I'm looking out my window at you -- are happy that they get to keep their insurance and tax break.
Insurance companies are thrilled. Their stocks soared after the decision because it guarantees the millions of customers they gained under the ACA will stay on with insurers.
The Supreme Court gets to put its stamp on historic legislation, rising above politics to show that most of its members are focused on and committed to the law. Meanwhile, dissenting justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito get to make their anti-ACA points -- you'll be hearing this Scalia comment for a while: "We should start calling this law SCOTUScare." -- and remain conservative darlings.
The Administration and most Democrats get to celebrate. Heck, the prez might even find a way to work "I won twice" into legal, not just political, discussions now.
And Republicans, especially members of Congress seeking election or reelection in 2016 and the 58 -- I kid, barely; there are just 13 … so far -- GOP White House wannabes get to whip up their supporters by promising, yet again, to repeal Obamacare if the voters will just give them one more chance.
More repeal efforts on the horizon: Will all these varying degrees of shared joy mean we won't see any more Obamacare repeal efforts? Get real.
Capitol Hill already is trying to repeal the medical device tax. That's a warm up. I expect the House, since it's fuller of folks who really need to switch to decaf, to go beyond piecemeal votes and try to repeal Obamacare for the 8 millionth time. OK, I kid again, barely; the 51st time based on a conservative, no pun intended, count.
Why will we be subjected to such a useless spectacle again, especially next year? Because demagoguing and pontificating is much more fun than actually doing real, like say tax reform, legislative work.
And more to the point, 2016 is, after all, an election year.
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