Federal Appeals Court Decision’s N.J. Impact

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

Doctor

The beginning of the end for the individual and employer mandates?

Perhaps. The esteemed D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals made huge waves on Tuesday morning, Save Jerseyans, when a three-judge panel that the language of the (Un)affordable Care Act prevents states from providing subsidies to residents of states who declined to establish their own independent insurance marketplaces from the federal exchange.

Thirty-six of fifty U.S. states fall into that category including our own New Jersey. Governor Chris Christie repeatedly vetoes attempts by the Democrat legislature to establish a state-based exchange.

“It is implausible to believe that Congress gave the IRS discretion to authorize $150 billion per year in federal spending, particularly when Congress had directly spoken to this issue,” the Halbig v. Burwell plaintiffs successfully argued. “Major economic decisions like these — indeed, any decisions granting tax credits — must be made unambiguously by Congress itself.”

Click here to read the opinion.

Background: The D.C. Circuit got it right. The ACA’s plain language references only state exchanges as eligible for subsidies. I bet Nancy Pelosi wishes she had read it now, right? Ironically, despite liberal outrage following the opinion’s release, all the panel did was uphold the law as written. Their poor, half-assed drafting of a major piece of legislation is coming back to bite them. You and I also know that the entire subsidy angle was a ruse from day #1. Subsidies funded in part by the law’s new taxes (and fresh debt, of course) artificially lowered the cost of Obamacare’s otherwise absurdly unaffordable Cadillac plans. It was a poor consolation for the hundreds of thousands of state residents who lost their preferred coverage.

Our next challenge? “Poor” is about to become the operative word.

New Jersey suffers the nation’s highest premiums but also enjoys among the richest subsidies. New Jerseyans in the federal exchange currently pay $465 per month on average without subsidies but only $148 per month if they qualify for them; the average for the other states without their own exchanges is $346 unsubsidized and $82 subsidized. This means some Garden State participants in the federal exchange could see premium increases of better than 300% if today’s decision is upheld by the full D.C. Circuit and then not overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

That’s a HUGE increase for your average family.

We knew this would happen. Premiums were already moving sharply upward before today’s decision in the post-ACA environment. Critics of Obamacare consistently argued that subsidies would lead to fewer taxpayer and more debt – not better quality, more affordable health care. Today’s decision simply accelerates the process.

Another wrinkle? A separate federal court – the 4th Circuit – came to a different conclusion today on the subsidy issue, heightening the chances that the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately take the case.

Don’t get caught flat-footed, folks! Conservatives need to boldly and creatively seize this teachable moment in order to blunt Democrat attempts to blame GOP governors for refusing to buy into this craptastic legislation.  Lazily citing the obvious for the 1,ooo,oooth time – that the ACA is a disaster – is not the answer. A better way to go is promoting and articulating our free market-friendly alternatives. The people want a choice; we need to give it to them.

November is coming…

 

Matt Rooney

Matt Rooney

Save Jersey’s Founder and Blogger-in-Chief, Matt Rooney is a widely-respected New Jersey political commentator, practicing attorney at the law firm of DeMichele & DeMichele in Haddon Heights, and a graduate of the Rutgers Camden School of Law.

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