Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Moops are on the march

The best description I have seen of the arguments of those who defend the D,C, Circuit's decision in Halbig v. Burwell was from Jonathan Chait.

Halbig is the two  month old decision about the availability of subsidies in states that did not establish an exchange under the Affordable Care Act. The ACA is based on the idea that states can set up exchanges for individuals to purchase health insurance. Under that law, if a state does not set up its own exchange, people in that state can buy insurance from the exchange set up by the federal government. The policies sold on the exchange are made affordable by federal subsidies (technically tax credits) that guarantee that low to middle income people can pay for their insurance premiums.  The problem is that the law refers to the subsidies being available to people enrolled in "state based exchanges." Although the law implies in several places that the subsidies were intended to be available to people who purchase through the federal exchange as well, opponents of Obamacare have seized on what clearly seems to be a typographical error, to claim that the subsidies cannot be paid to people in federal-run exchanges. In Halbig, the court ruled that subsidies were not available notwithstanding the clear intent of the overall law. As Chait pointed out, essentially what the Halbig court was saying was "Sorry, you lose. The card says Moops."

Since I saw that Chait piece, anytime I think of Halbig I think "the card says Moops!" Today the card said Moops in Oklahoma too. The sad thing is that I pretty much expect the card to say Moops in the Supreme Court too some day.