Challengers in King Case File Cert Petition


By Hadley Heath Manning

Today, petitioners in the case King v. Burwell filed for certiorari with the Supreme Court.  

Not ten days ago, David King, Douglas Hurst, Brenda Levy and Rose Luck found out that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals sided against them 2-1, and ruled that the Obama Administration did not overstep its authority when it made federal subsidies available through the federal ObamaCare exchange. 

This case is among a handful that all allege the same thing: The Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare was written to provide federal subsidies to exchanges established by states.  But 36 states chose not to establish exchanges of their own, and thereby default to a federally-operated exchange. The challengers in the King case (and other similar cases) argue that the letter of the law does not provide for subsidies to be disbursed in non-establishing states. They believe the executive branch - through an IRS regulatory rule - overstepped its bounds by changing this part of the law's structure after the fact. 

Just as the appellants in King found out they'd lost at the appellate level, challengers in an another lawsuit, Halbig v. Burwell, found out that they had won. Halbig's 2-1 ruling went exactly the opposite way at the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Court watchers expect the government to ask for an en banc hearing in Halbig, but petitioners in the King case have asked for the Highest Court to take up their case this term.

From their petition:

This is a challenge to the most consequential regulation promulgated under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). Two Courts of Appeals have squarely divided over its facial validity. The resulting uncertainty over this major plank of ACA implementation means that millions of people have no idea if they may rely on the IRS’s promise to subsidize their health coverage, or if that money will be clawed back. Employers in 36 states have no idea if they will be penalized under the ACA’s employer mandate, or are effectively exempt from it. Insurers have no idea if their customers will pay for health coverage in which they enrolled, or if large numbers will default. And the Treasury has no idea if billions of dollars being spent each month were authorized by Congress, or if these expenditures are illegal. Only this Court can definitively resolve the matter; it is imperative that the Court do so as soon as possible.

As I wrote for Doublethink Magazine this week, these cases are already creating bad press for the Obama Administration, and undermine the concept of government-run health care. 


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