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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Courts Do Battle Over Typo in Obamacare

Posted by Paul Constant on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 1:44 PM

If, like me, you woke up this morning to the alarming news that a couple of activist judges basically curb-stomped Obamacare to death, you might want to read this ThinkProgress post, which explains the thinking behind the ruling:

The two Republicans’ decision rests on a glorified typo in the Affordable Care Act itself. Obamacare gives states a choice. They can either run their own health insurance exchange where their residents may buy health insurance, and receive subsidies to help them pay for that insurance if they qualify, or they can allow the federal government to run that exchange for them. Yet the plaintiffs’ in this case uncovered a drafting error in the statute where it appears to limit the subsidies to individuals who obtain insurance through “an Exchange established by the State.” Randolph and Griffith’s opinion concludes that this drafting error is the only thing that matters. In their words, “a federal Exchange is not an ‘Exchange established by the State,’” and that’s it. The upshot of this opinion is that 6.5 million Americans will lose their ability to afford health insurance, according to one estimate.

But now the news has changed again. We're basically in the middle of a court-fight:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld a federal regulations that implemented subsidies that are vital to President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul, in direct conflict with another ruling on the issue handed down earlier on Tuesday.

As the New York Times points out, there are more rulings from other courts on the way, too. It's the legal equivalent of a roller coaster! Keep your arms and legs inside the moving car at all times, because you may or may not have health insurance if your limbs are accidentally ripped off.

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