Dueling Obamacare Rulings Likely Headed to Supreme Court

As Fox 31 reports:

Two appeals courts reached differing decisions on Obamacare subsidies Tuesday, meaning a likely Supreme Court case on the key component of the health care law.

A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 against the subsidies, while a similar panel of the 4th Circuit down the road in Richmond, Virginia unanimously backed the Obama administration.

The opposing rulings mean the next stop for the issue will almost certainly be the nation’s highest court in a case that represents the best hopes of the 2010 law’s conservative foes to undermine it.

The rulings do not affect the Colorado health insurance exchange, said Connect for Health Colorado spokesman Ben Davis, because the Colorado exchange is run independently.

These cases bring up an interesting political dilemma for Republicans. A Supreme Court ruling on subsidies could significantly weaken the Affordable Care Act's health coverage mandate, which would be the kind of victory that outspoken critics of Obamacare have been clambering to see. However…

New data shows that the number of uninsured Americans has dropped to its lowest level since 2008. While Americans still aren't in love with Obamacare overall, poll numbers have been slowly shifting in favor of the law — especially if you are one of the millions of newly-insured Americans:

According to the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, about 45 percent of Americans still have an unfavorable view of the law (down from 50 percent in January). However, according to the Commonwealth Fund, 58 percent of Americans newly enrolled in Medicaid or private insurance say that they are better off now than they were before the law. Among the newly insured, 78 percent are satisfied to very satisfied with their coverage, including 74 percent of those who identify themselves as Republicans. Sixty percent of the newly covered have already started to use their new insurance, and most enrollees said they could get an appointment within two weeks.

If the Supreme Court rules unfavorably for the Affordable Care Act, Republicans will boast loudly of their efforts to defeat Obamacare…and millions of Americans will want quick answers for what they are supposed to do now. Republicans have no clear alternative for Obamacare, which would leave them with a narrative consisting of little more than, "Hey, we broke it!" How that wins Republicans the Presidency in 2016 — or any other elections, for that matter — is not a question we could even pretend to be able to answer.

32 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Democrat1207 says:

    Actually it seems the full D.C. Circuit Might Rule in favor of the subsidies so may not even reach the Supreme Court.

  2. Republican 36 says:

    I haven't read the news accounts of the D.C. Circuit Court ruling but it is rare for the full circuit to rehear a case. Such a hearing is known as an en banc where all the judges of the circuit rehear the case and either affirm or write a different opinion. Usually, motions for en banc hearings are denied and the case may then be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Of course, that court may or may not hear the appeal.

    • SocialisticatProgressicat says:

      Federal Rules are heavily weighted against rehearing en banc.  One condition under which they can be held, however, is "to decide questions of exceptional importance."  Whether the rehearing is granted is really a question of whether the other judges agree with the, well, scorching dissenter in the case who argues that the other two judges fundamental misconstruction of the statute led them to an impossible conclusion.  I think this is one of those questions where the rehearing could be justified, although those are rare, based on the dissent. 

    • The decision in the 4th Circuit might weigh in favor of an en banc rehearing as well. I think they might take this review based on the seriousness of the question more than anything else, though.

  3. FrankUnderwood says:

    I still think Obama Derangement Syndrome is more of a mental health issue than an ideological issue.  When Medicare passed in the mid '60's, did the opponents turn repeal into a fetish like the tea party has done w/ ACA today?  Did Nixon run in '68 on a pledge to repeal and replace Medicare?  I don' think so.  In 1946 when the Repubs took control of Congress, did they vote 50+ times to repeal social security?  I don't think so.  They moved on……

    • No, Frank – they have never moved on from the New Deal, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, civil rights, or much of anything else in the social sphere since the days of FDR.

      The only difference between then and now is that today's Republicans aren't going to take it any more. The Republican power brokers have spent all these years plotting just how to change the political atmosphere, and now they've found the tipping point. All of their investment in media, their public wars on unions and the perceived liberal bias in education, their targeting of various activist groups (Moral Majority, Tea Party, etc.) and all of their political shenanigans ranging from voter disenfranchisement through the recent Congressional grandstanding – all of it has come home to roost in a Republican electorate so misinformed and worked up that they'd probably vote in favor of firing a nuclear missile at the border if they thought the gay illegals were coming to get them.

      • notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

        You're right, PR, they won't move on. They can't. They have no where to move to. In order to move on, they would need some fresh ideas of their own and they have none. Hence, the stale, recycled outrage over the ACA (stll trying to repeal it); outrage at the bank bailout, outrage at the Exec. Order for Federal contractors re LGBT employees, ad nauseum. I've even seen Right-wing commentators stirring the cold embers of Clinton-era scandals lest Hillary actually decide to run for POTUS in'16. They 're just too howl-at-the-moon, lazy-ass-stupid to come up with any new ideas other than robbing the poor to give to the rich.

        • Don't underestimate the whole movement, NASC. Republicans have been working toward this for a long time – in part longer than I've been alive, and in earnest since I was a young boy.

          They have plenty of ideas. Most of them seem to revolve around winning elections. That means activating a base of voters, breaking up Democratic voter blocs and deterring them from voting, and spreading their belief system while whittling away at things that support Democratic beliefs. They have spent many billions of dollars and sacrificed a few pawns along the way, and at least on some fronts they are holding even or advancing their cause no matter how despicable the methods.

          We are, for example, in danger of losing the battle over abortion rights simply because the medical profession has been scared away from the procedure through violence, harassment, and TRAP laws.

          This isn't a lack of ideas – though much of what is spouted is indeed stupid on its face. There's a method to the madness, never doubt it.

      • JBJK16 says:

        I think you are right.

        and it's not a good thing.  

        The partisan diviide is not has severe as it ever was, but it's as severe as I've seen in my lifetime. 

      • FrankUnderwood says:

           Even by the 1980's, a staunch conservative like St. Ronnie was not calling for repeal of social security or Medicare but instead appointed a bipartisan commission to work to make it more solvent. 

           Has anyone heard of Boner or McConnell suggesting a select committee to work out some of the kinks in Obamacare?  No, they just keep voting to repeal the entire thing.

        • Behind the scenes there was always a core group that hated it all. It never went away – but as Eisenhower noted, you'd have to be an idiot in order to try to repeal the programs, so the simmering hate went under the radar instead.

          Reagan was still somewhat attached to the reality server – he did massive tax cuts but then realized he'd gone too far and screwed up the budget, so he undid a number of them. He had the sense to work with Kennedy on the Social Security issue – just as many Republicans did back in the day. He'd be a shunned figure in today's Republican party.

          But at the same time in 1980 David Koch – running on the Libertarian ticket – ran on a platform of ending our social safety net programs. Before that, Ron Paul was a Congressman from Texas on the Republican party line. And before him, long-serving Senator Barry Goldwater won the Republican nomination but lost a rather decisive Presidential election to Lyndon Johnson based largely on the issues so dear to conservatives today (except those based in hate – anti-gay and anti-immigration sentiment were never his thing).

    • Andrew Carnegie says:

      FU, When Medicare passed in the 60's or when social security passed was there buy in from other sides of the aisle? 

      The passage of the ACA without a single vote from the other party ensured that it would remain a partisan issue.


      • BlueCatBlueCat says:

        The utterly ridiculous nature of the hard right to bat shit crazy range contemporary GOTP, as opposed to the GOP of the past which included conservatives, moderates and liberals, all of them grown ups who believed in the capacity of government to solve problems, accomplish big things and whose goal was to get those big things things done via reasonable compromise, is the reason there is no longer buy in from your mean spirited, hateful obstructionist side of the aisle.

        Their stated goal from before Obama's first inauguration was to deny him any victory, no matter the consequences, no matter the intrinsic value of  any piece of legislation because making him a one term President was to be their only goal for the duration. Since failing at that they been forced to continue as if that goal still made any sense, unable to adjust with their crazy base making it clear no compromise will be tolerated.

        So we continue to be witness to the spectacle of Republicans voting against their own proposals and denouncing the policies put forward by their own think tanks. The good of the country, of their constituents hasn't had anything to do with their decisions since the 2008 election. It's their own wackos who have made clear no buy in will be tolerated. That's why there isn't any.

    • DavieDavie says:

      Frank, growing up in the South in the '50's and '60's, I saw a number of roadside billboards sponsored by the John Birch Society calling for the impeachment of Earl Warren — I believe primarily due to the Brown vs. the Board of Education ruling.

      So today, the Birchers (like the Koch family) have moved from the fringe into the mainstream of the GOP.  Thus paranoia rules the GOP today as it did the radical fringe 60 years ago.

      Apologists like AC and Moddy accept the modern GOP's neo-fascist viewpoint because they identify with being Republican, and don't know anything else.

      That's why it is imperative for Democrats, former Republicans and independents to work as hard as possible to crush the current GOP party at the polls (or get out of the way when the GOTPers try it themselves), so that eventually, whatever emerges from the ashes will again realize that sanity requires accepting reality.  

      Then AC and Moddy will dutifully toe the new party line, which will be based on reason, not just a projection of their own fears and insecurities.

      • FrankUnderwood says:

        But the Birch Society was not the entire GOP.  They had leaders like Ford and Dirksen who had the balls to work across the aisle with the Dems.  I suppose the sea change occurred when Newt Gingrich hijacked the GOP, threw the moderate House leaders overboard, and declared his revolution.  Of course, four years later, Newt met his Waterloo when he moved against Clinton and the impeachment thing backfired.

        On a not-entirely-unrelated story, Politico has a story today about a very taboo subject:  who will be the new GOP Senate leader if McConnell should lose. Answer:  it is far from clear that Cornyn gets the promotion.  There are several possibilities.


        • BlueCatBlueCat says:

          The Birch society was very far from representing the entire GOP of the day. They were then considered extremists by most Americans including Republicans. Today the Tea Party has been fully embraced by the party as a whole to the extent that I now consider it to be no longer  the GOP but the GOTP. 

          Sure Tea Party in name candidates often still fail to prevail over establishment in name candidates but the establishment has been moved so far in the same direction as the Tea Party, there's not a dime's worth of difference in the policies they support. 

          There was an enormous difference between what mainstream Rs and the Birchers stood for and advocated. Mainstream Rs had no fear of criticizing Birchers and didn't feel the need to pander to them.

      • ct says:

        There were John Birch billboards kicking around western Colorado not that very long ago… this century.


  4. Ralphie says:

    Mostly at Van Gundy's property near the 5th St. Bridge.  I believe he had one up last year.

Leave a Reply

Comment from your Facebook account

You may comment with your Colorado Pols account above (click here to register), or via Facebook below.