The General Assembly and the governor have taken a lot of heat for refusing to set up a state exchange under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare.) At CLC, one health expert explained why.
Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute said the refusal of 34 states to set up exchanges has left the disastrous health care overhaul with a big vulnerability. Let me try to give an (over?)simplified account of the story
One of the few clear things the law said was that the individual mandate and allied taxes do not apply to “through an Exchange established by the State under Section 1311.” [emphasis mine, of course.]
The problem:”Without those subsides [people will] see the full cost of Obamacare,” Cannon said at CLC. That would create a political firestorm.
So, as has been their wont, the Obama crew ignored the law and said the mandate and taxes applied to the federal exchanges.
The trap for Obamacare: the taxes and mandates harm people , so they have standing to sue in court. (The reason for the many delays and waivers is that doing so keeps people from being actually harmed – at least until after elections – so they can’t sue till then.)
So there are at least four lawsuits wending their way through the courts. Last week arguments were here in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in such a suit, Halbig v. Sebelius.
It’s hard to say what that court will say; the betting is that the case (or others) will go to the Supreme Court.
Congress of course could solve the problem by reopening the law and fixing the problem. Democrats, however, find that about as appealing as a road kill hoagie.
What happens if the courts say that the individual mandates and the subsidies can’t be imposed on state exchanges? A political nightmare.
“We already won this thing and the president is trying to steal that victory away from us,” Cannon said. Whatever the outcome, North Carolina and other states performed a valuable public service by throwing this roadblock up in front of Obamacare.