Sunday Morning Greek Blog

May 12, 2015

Why SCOTUS Should Favor King in King v. Burwell

Filed under: Greek — Scott Stocking @ 5:40 am
Tags: ,

I feel very strongly that, as Christians, we need to take an active roll in our government. That’s why I’m going to hijack my own blog for political purposes.
If you’ve been watching the news at all, you have probably heard about King v. Burwell, the case before the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) regarding whether the health insurance exchanges mandated by the Affordable Care Act can qualify for tax credits if they weren’t “established by the State” (42 USC 1396A(gg)).
At question is the definition of “State” in the law. The Affordable Care Act allows the Federal government (through the Secretary of HHS) to establish a State Exchange if States fail to do so themselves. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act allows a credit or refund of part of the premium for those who purchased insurance through the Exchanges, but only if the Exchange was  “established by the State.” The issue is that, in the 34 States that did not establish their own exchange, the Federal government issued these credits when they shouldn’t have. In its brief to the Supreme Court, the US government argues that, under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, they essentially acted as a surrogate of the State when they established federally run Exchanges. The Feds also argue that “established by the State” is a “term of art,” a construction that was intended to be understood as “by the Federal government for the State.”
The problem is that the Affordable Care Act throughout makes frequent distinctions between the role of the Feds vs. the role of the State. Add to that the fact that the Affordable Care Act itself directs readers to the definition of “State” intended for the law (sec 1551, codified at 42 USC 18111, which refers to 42 USC 300gg-91). At paragraph 14 of 42 USC 300gg-91, we find the following definition of “State”:

“The term ‘State’ means each of the several States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.”

So according to Law, “State” must be understood in the Affordable Care Act as referring to the individual States, and “established by the State” can NOT mean “established by the Federal government.”
Affordable Care Act supporters argue that taking away the credits from federally established exchanges would cause a death spiral for the Affordable Care Act. I think a death spiral is in the works, but that will happen to our entire legal system if SCOTUS defines “State” broadly to mean the Federal government. This would cause many of our laws that give States powers to be reexamined in light of this new definition. States that are struggling financially could dump their unfunded mandates back on the Feds! In my mind, such an expansion of the definition of State would be the beginning of the end for States’ rights.
This issue isn’t just about purportedly cheaper health care coverage. We’ve already seen it’s not cheaper. This issue represents a fundamental struggle between State autonomy and Federal coercion. I hope and pray that SCOTUS sides with King.
Scott Stocking

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3 Comments »

  1. Interesting that as a Christian you are in favor of condemning people to death through a forced lack of health insurance.

    Comment by C L Deards — May 13, 2015 @ 8:37 am | Reply

    • Mr. Deards: In the interest of promoting dialog, I’ll approve your post, even though it is borderline libelous (falsely accusing me of attempted murder) and smacks of the overblown hyperbole of a teenage drama queen. More people die with health insurance than without, so using your convoluted logic, it’s more dangerous, it’s more dangerous to have health insurance. Second, I’m not forcing, nor am I able to coerce, anyone not to have health insurance. In fact, people are making intentional decisions not to work full time so they can qualify for the subsidies. In fact, many economists have already acknowledged the reduced productivity and hours of FTE caused by the Affordable Care Act. The way the law is written, the more you work, the lower your subsidy, and by privation, the greater your tax burden. So if you support the subsidies, you are supporting poverty and the unhealthy reliance of the poor on government.

      Comment by Scott Stocking — May 13, 2015 @ 12:56 pm | Reply

      • Should be “by implication”, not ” by privation”. Evils of big thumbs on an iPhone keyboard.

        Comment by Scott Stocking — May 13, 2015 @ 1:01 pm


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