Oral arguments today at Supreme Court deciding Obamacare subsidies

Obamacare advocates are going ballistic today, as the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the King v. Burwell case, which challenges the government giving out subsidies for Obamacare insurance policies.

The hysteria is incredible.  Get this lead from CNN:

The future of health care in America is on the table -- and in serious jeopardy -- this morning in the Supreme Court..

The "future of health care" is in "serious jeopardy"?  You mean if people lose their subsidies, health care in America will vanish?  C'mon.

Fortunately, it's not that complicated.  The issue is congressional intent.  Did Congress intend to give consumers subsidies if they purchased insurance on the national exchange, healthcare.gov?  The law says no.  But Obamacare supporters think that because it was supposedly a "mistake" by those who wrote the law, people should still be able to keep their taxpayer-funded subsidies.

But was it really a "mistake"?

In this case -- King v. Burwell -- the challengers say that Congress always meant to limit the subsidies to encourage states to set up their own exchanges. But when only 16 states acted, they argue the IRS tried to move in and interpret the law differently.

Republican critics of the law, such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, filed briefs warning that the executive was encroaching on Congress' "law making function" and that the IRS interpretation "opens the door to hundreds of billions of dollars of additional government spending."

In a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and two other Republicans in Congress said that if the Court rules in their favor "Republicans have a plan to protect Americans harmed by the administration's actions."

Hatch said that Republicans would work with the states and give them the "freedom and flexibility to create better, more competitive health insurance markets offering more options and different choices."

In Court, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli is expected to stress that four words—"established by the state"-- found in one section of the law were a term of art meant to include both state run and federally facilitated exchanges.

He will argue the justices need only read the entire statute to understand Congress meant to issue subsidies to all eligible individuals enrolled in all of the exchanges.

Oh really?  In cases like this, the justices will not only read the law, but read the debates on the floor of Congress as well.  When they do, they will see that the intent of Congress was clear.  Supporters of Obamacare couldn't imagine a state not setting up an insurance exchange to give their citizens access to subsidies.  What they didn't count on was the strong opposition to the law, which resulted in only 14 states setting up their own exchanges.

On the face of it, the case is a slam-dunk for the plaintiffs.  But the Supremes must be convinced that there is adquate protection for the market and for consumers before they deep-six the subsidies.  Numerous Supreme Court cases in the past have taken into account disruption of the market and the negative impact of a decision on ordinary people.  Unless Republicans can convince SCOTUS that one of their alternatives would minimize that risk, the court is not likely to kill the subsidies received by consumers through the national marketplace.

Once again, it's probably going to be up to Chief Justice John Roberts.  Given his failure two years ago to overturn the individual mandate, it's a long shot that he will side with the plaintiffs and deal a blow to Obamacare.

Obamacare advocates are going ballistic today, as the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the King v. Burwell case, which challenges the government giving out subsidies for Obamacare insurance policies.

The hysteria is incredible.  Get this lead from CNN:

The future of health care in America is on the table -- and in serious jeopardy -- this morning in the Supreme Court..

The "future of health care" is in "serious jeopardy"?  You mean if people lose their subsidies, health care in America will vanish?  C'mon.

Fortunately, it's not that complicated.  The issue is congressional intent.  Did Congress intend to give consumers subsidies if they purchased insurance on the national exchange, healthcare.gov?  The law says no.  But Obamacare supporters think that because it was supposedly a "mistake" by those who wrote the law, people should still be able to keep their taxpayer-funded subsidies.

But was it really a "mistake"?

In this case -- King v. Burwell -- the challengers say that Congress always meant to limit the subsidies to encourage states to set up their own exchanges. But when only 16 states acted, they argue the IRS tried to move in and interpret the law differently.

Republican critics of the law, such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, filed briefs warning that the executive was encroaching on Congress' "law making function" and that the IRS interpretation "opens the door to hundreds of billions of dollars of additional government spending."

In a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and two other Republicans in Congress said that if the Court rules in their favor "Republicans have a plan to protect Americans harmed by the administration's actions."

Hatch said that Republicans would work with the states and give them the "freedom and flexibility to create better, more competitive health insurance markets offering more options and different choices."

In Court, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli is expected to stress that four words—"established by the state"-- found in one section of the law were a term of art meant to include both state run and federally facilitated exchanges.

He will argue the justices need only read the entire statute to understand Congress meant to issue subsidies to all eligible individuals enrolled in all of the exchanges.

Oh really?  In cases like this, the justices will not only read the law, but read the debates on the floor of Congress as well.  When they do, they will see that the intent of Congress was clear.  Supporters of Obamacare couldn't imagine a state not setting up an insurance exchange to give their citizens access to subsidies.  What they didn't count on was the strong opposition to the law, which resulted in only 14 states setting up their own exchanges.

On the face of it, the case is a slam-dunk for the plaintiffs.  But the Supremes must be convinced that there is adquate protection for the market and for consumers before they deep-six the subsidies.  Numerous Supreme Court cases in the past have taken into account disruption of the market and the negative impact of a decision on ordinary people.  Unless Republicans can convince SCOTUS that one of their alternatives would minimize that risk, the court is not likely to kill the subsidies received by consumers through the national marketplace.

Once again, it's probably going to be up to Chief Justice John Roberts.  Given his failure two years ago to overturn the individual mandate, it's a long shot that he will side with the plaintiffs and deal a blow to Obamacare.