When some of us were out on summer vacation, two rulings came down regarding Obamacare subsidies provided through Exchanges. One appeals court rejected challenges to the law; but another three-judge appeal court panel split 2-1 in accepting the idea that the federal Exchange is not able to provide subsidies.
Apparently, there was some ambiguous language in the Affordable Care Act, which indicated that those in state-run exchanges would get affordability subsidies, but it wasn’t totally explicit that patients in states using the federal fallback exchange should also have access to these subsidies. Nevermind that is is clearly implied, that the bills was scored and budgeted for subsidies going to all 50 states, that never in the reporting or hearings of the law was there any suggestion that there would be a difference in subsidies between those in state-based exchanges and federally-run exchanges. Two Republican judges took it upon themselves to use a super-literal reading of the text to take money to afford health care from millions of Americans in 36 states.
This would be a “blow to Obamacare,” if it were real. But this challenge isn’t advancing. It’s not just the other appeals panel that rejected the argument; even the conservative members of the Supreme Court, in their deliberations two years ago, assumed that all states would be getting subsidies.
As we stated on Twitter, this has zero, zilch, nada, no impact on California whatsoever, even in the worst case scenario, which ain’t going to happen. Even in that worst-case scenario where this crazy ruling is upheld, California has protected itself by setting up its own exchange, Covered California–its most likely that several more states would set up Exchanges if that were the point. There is no challenge to the subsidies provided for getting Covered California plans–the over 1.2 million Californians getting subsidies in Covered California can rest easy that this will have no impact on their ability to get coverage or subsidies.
We would have hoped that Jon Stewart in covering this would have brought this key point up, but the rest of his coverage on this subject is spot on: