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Obamacare Case Lawyer: Fight Isn't Over Despite High Court Ruling

By    |   Thursday, 25 June 2015 08:48 PM

Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the nationwide availability of Obamacare tax subsidies with its 6-3 decision on Thursday, the battle to end the Affordable Care Act now moves to the Republican-controlled Congress, Competitive Enterprise Institute chief counsel Sam Kazman told Newsmax.

"I don't think the issue is closed whatsoever," said Kazman, whose Washington-based organization financed the lawsuit. "Ironically, the prospects for Congress doing something have probably increased somewhat."

CEI recruited four people from Virginia to be plaintiffs in the lawsuit. They were David King, Brenda Levy, Rose Luck, and Douglas Hurst. King, a self-employed limousine driver, was the lead plaintiff.

"There's been increasing congressional interest in doing something about Obamacare — and our belief is that actually may well accelerate in the wake of today's decision and result in some fundamental rethinking of this program," Kazman said in an interview.

In the second major ruling upholding Obamacare in three years, the justices ruled that four words in the law — "established by the state" — do not restrict the subsidies to states that establish their own online healthcare exchanges.

Chief Justice John Roberts was joined by fellow conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy and the court's liberal members in the majority. Roberts also cast the deciding vote backing the healthcare plan in 2012.

"Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them," Roberts wrote, adding that the nationwide availability of the credits was necessary to "avoid the type of calamitous result that Congress plainly meant to avoid."

Justice Antonin Scalia took the relatively rare step of reading a summary of his dissenting opinion from the bench. Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas also dissented.

"It is hard to come up with a reason to use these words other than the purpose of limiting credits to state exchanges," Scalia said.

"We really should start calling the law SCOTUScare," he added, referencing the earlier decision.

SCOTUS is the acronym for the Supreme Court of the United States.

Kazman praised Scalia's dissent, telling Newsmax that it was "incredibly persuasive and incredibly well-written.

"Justice Scalia's dissent, which two other justices joined, in years to come may well become a clarion call for the dangers of disregarding what language means," he said.

With the ruling, the current system will remain in place, with subsidies available in all 50 states.

Had the CEI challengers won, as many as 6.4 million people in 34 states would have lost subsidies that help low- and moderate-income people pay for private health insurance. The average subsidy is $272 per month.

"It's Congress that writes the laws and agencies that implement them," Kazman said. "It was our view that what the IRS was doing here in deciding that subsidies would be nationwide was really rewriting the law that Congress wrote, rather than implementing it."

Therefore, the Obamacare battle must be waged in Congress, he said.

"The political arena is one very appropriate arena because that's where you have elected representatives both in Congress and in state legislatures involved in that," Kazman told Newsmax. "The last thing you want is to have all this being determined by unelected bureaucrats and agencies like the IRS."

But while many Republicans — including the 12 candidates and hopefuls seeking the presidential nomination — slammed the high court, some GOP members of Congress acknowledged that the five-year effort to end the healthcare law might be over.

"We’re going to have to go back to the drawing board, figure out if there is an alternative at this point," Nevada Sen. Dean Heller told Politico. "Perhaps it’s time to move on from this particular topic."

Alabama Rep. Robert Aderholt placed his hope in a Republican president repealing the law in 2017.

"At the end of the day, there is not going to be any complete repeal of the law until there is a new administration," he told Politico. "But we can’t sit back as a party who stood against it, and pretend that it is what it is and we aren’t going to do anything."

But Aderholt's Cotton State colleague in the Senate, Jeff Sessions, who has long opposed the law, slammed the decision to Newsmax as "Obamacare acrobatics" that "should dispel for good the comforting illusion that we can rely on judges to save us.

"Whether on socialized medicine, executive amnesty, or any other action that erodes our Constitution and the powers of Congress, conservatives will have to rally the everyday voting citizen," Sessions said.

"There is no greater power than winning the trust and loyalty of the American people."
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said the ruling "failed to hold the Obama administration responsible for its reckless execution of its own poorly-crafted law.

"Obamacare has been a series of broken promises from the start," the Utah senator added. "From skyrocketing costs to less access to care and more bureaucratic control of the healthcare system, the president’s law has failed patients and taxpayers.

"The American people deserve better," Hatch said.

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health Committee, pointed to the recent 36 percent rate increase announced by insurers in his state as evidence that "Obamacare was an historic mistake.

"It gave Americans higher healthcare costs while reducing our choices of health plans, doctors and hospitals," Alexander said. "Republicans are ready to reduce the cost of healthcare so more people can afford it, put patients back in charge, and restore freedom and choice to the healthcare market."

In the House, Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry of North Carolina said that he remained convinced that "this law is broken.

"Real healthcare reform should reduce costs, expand choices, and put important healthcare decisions in the hands of consumers, not government bureaucrats," he said.

Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, called the court's decision "outrageous."

"It means the English language is absolutely meaningless," he added. "The American people continue to reject Obamacare.

"We have to move to a patient-centered healthcare system. People don't want it."

Idaho Rep. Raúl Labrador said the ruling "enshrines the principle that the president can trump Congress.

"The challenge now before Congress is to unequivocally repeal Obamacare and replace it with patient-centered, market-based care," he added. "It’s our job to expand access to quality care and restore incentives for innovations that improve and save lives."

Among the many conservative groups blasting the decision was the Tea Party Patriots.

Jenny Beth Martin, the organization's CEO and co-founder, charged that the justices had "handed down another absurd Obamacare ruling.

"While Americans suffer under the law and the federal government issues subsidies contrary to what the law says, the Supreme Court seems intent on actively changing the text to uphold the law.

"We are living in interesting times when both the executive and now the judicial branch seem to have an utter disregard for what is written into law," Martin said.

The Senate Conservatives Fund accused the court "for the second time" of legislating "from the bench to save Obamacare.

"Obamacare is unaffordable, unworkable, and unfair, and Americans overwhelmingly oppose it," said Ken Cuccinelli, the group's president and former Virginia attorney general.

"Republicans in Congress promised the voters they would repeal Obamacare, and now they need to keep their word."

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said the decision was "an affront to the rule of law and constitutional self-government.

"No federal judge has the power to rewrite the law," he said, accusing the majority justices engaged in "an unconstitutional power grab every bit as unlawful as President Obama’s rewrite of Obamacare."

The American Center for Law and Justice filed a brief supporting the plaintiffs in the case.

"Unfortunately, the majority of the court failed to apply the law as written," said Jay Sekulow, the center's chief counsel. "The Court instead rewrote the law, something it did not have the constitutional power to do.

"The court clearly over stepped its authority," he added. "That is reflected by Justice Scalia in this line from his dissent: 'We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.'"

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the nationwide availability of Obamacare tax subsidies with its 6-3 decision on Thursday, the battle to end the Affordable Care Act now moves to the...
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Thursday, 25 June 2015 08:48 PM
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