By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — In a carefully, crafted effort to re-tool ObamaCare, the U.S. Supreme Court last Friday agreed to tackle a case related to the Affordable Care Act signed into law in March 2010.
At the heart of this case, King v. Burwell, is whether health insurance for middle-class and low-income residents should be subsidized by the federal government. Subsidies such as tax credits were included in the reform law. King v. Burwell, like the similar Halbig v. Burwell case, has a long history in thecourt system. On July 22, two U.S. courts delivered opposite rulings on the subsidies.
Without these subsidies, most small business owners or unemployed people wouldn’t be able to afford health insurance.
Halbig, one of several pending ObamaCare lawsuits, is expected to be heard again by a full circuit court panel on Dec. 17. The King case would likely be heard next spring.
Proponents of the ACA said this is a move, though touted as an unlikely one to have direct impact on Connecticut, more than 80,000 Obamacare enrollees should watch closely. Connecticut is one of 14 states that administers its own health insurance exchange through Access Health CT.
This would be the third time the Supreme Court take up cases related to Obamacare delving slight blows to the law. In 2012, five justices upheld the requirement that most Americans must buy health insurance or pay a tax–a victory for President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats. This ruling, joined by Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., was the most significant federalism decision since the New Deal in the 1930s. Howev3er, the court limited expansion of Medicaid, which provides health care to poor and disabled people.
In June 2014, the court ruled that the family-owned businesses should not be forced to provide insurance that covers contraceptive services because it violates the business owner’s religious beliefs.
This latest move does not bode well for the Obama administration. That’s because the legislative branch is run by the Republicans, who have tried to repeal the law 55 times.
However, Republicans will face an uphill battle in achieving this goal through the judicial branch. One conservative spokesperson said that incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should try a conciliatory approach.
“Republicans should use reconciliation to fully repeal Obamacare,” said Ken Cuccinelli, who heads the Senate Conservative Fund.
The law had originally required states to run their own healthcare exchanges. Most states in the South rejected that idea, forcing residents to move to other states that offer Obamacare.
According to a report by the nonprofit health policy organization, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. up to 7.3 million people are expected to be on this insurance.