This post was published the day before the D.C. Circuit ruled against the government in Halbig v. Burwell and the Fourth Circuit ruled for the government in King v. Burwell. The Supreme Court has since agreed to review King, and the D.C. Circuit has put Halbig on hold pending the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell reiterated to Congress Thursday that the Obama administration does not have a Plan B if the Supreme Court strikes down a key part of the Affordable Care Act — despite a Republican congressman claiming he heard a contingency plan is being drafted.
Rep. Joseph Pitts, R-Pa., who chairs a House health subcommittee, claimed he has been told the Obama administration is preparing a 100-page contingency plan in case it loses the high court challenge. The Supreme Court next week is hearing a case over whether subsidies at the heart of the law can be distributed through the federal health care exchange.
“So, if the court strikes it down, the administration is just going to say, ‘we surrender?’” Pitts asked.
Burwell answered, “An administrative remedy is something we don’t believe we have.”
On March 4, the Supreme Court will be asked to decide whether the IRS illegally extended subsidies to millions of Americans in order to underwrite the cost of their health insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.
The language of the law says the subsidies will be awarded in states that set up their own exchanges, but more than three dozen states opted not to do that. Despite that fact, the IRS extended subsidies into those states.
Some ACA critics fear the Supreme Court may hesitate to block the current subsidies because of a lack of confidence in the legislative branch in general.
Should the Supreme Court rule in King v. Burwell—a case challenging the Obama Administration’s implementation of the premium tax credit provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—that the statute restricts the payment of premium tax credits only to individuals obtaining coverage “through an Exchange established by [a] State,” its ruling would preclude the Treasury paying the tax credits to those obtaining coverage through the federally run exchange—or what the Obama Administration calls the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM)—currently serving 34 states King v. Burwell