March Court Date Means GOP Has Till June To Replace Obamacare

Conn Carroll
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Posted: Dec 23, 2014 2:00 PM
March Court Date Means GOP Has Till June To Replace Obamacare

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of King v. Burwell, a suit seeking to stop billions in health care tax credits, on March 4, 2015. 

The Court first announced they would hear the case on November 7th, a surprise that many Obamacare supporters took as a bad sign for the law. University Law School professor Nicholas Bagley wrote at the time:

In a significant setback for the Obama administration, the Supreme Court just agreed to review King v. Burwell, the Fourth Circuit’s decision upholding an IRS rule extending tax credits to federally established exchanges.

what’s troubling is that four justices apparently think—or at least are inclined to think—that King was wrongly decided. As I’ve said before, there’s no other reason to take King. The challengers urged the Court to intervene now in order to resolve “uncertainty” about the availability of federal tax credits.

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There’s uncertainty only if you think the Supreme Court might invalidate the IRS rule. That’s why the justices’ votes on whether to grant the case are decent proxies for how they’ll decide the case. The justices who agree with King wouldn’t vote to grant. They would instead want to signal to their colleagues that, in their view, the IRS rule ought to be upheld. The justices who disagree with King would want to signal the opposite.

If the Court does rule against the Obama administration, however, Republicans in Congress will be in a bind. Only those states that did not set up state health care exchanges will lose their Obamacare tax credits and most of those states are controlled by Republicans. This means that the citizens of California will continue to get their health insurance tax credits while the citizens of Texas will not.

Republicans in Congress will have until midsummer to come up with a solution to this problem. A Court decision is expected in late June.