Roe: Obamacare too flawed to fix
Published 9:03 am Friday, June 26, 2015
A long-awaited court ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court was issued Thursday, though it was not the ruling that many of Tennessee’s federal representatives were hoping for.
In a 6-3 decision in the case of King vs. Burwell, the Supreme Court ruled that subsidies provided to purchase health insurance through the Affordable Care Act are in accordance with federal law.
The case hinged on wording within the ACA that provided the subsidies to residents of states that created an insurance exchange, but provisions of the law also allowed for the creation of a national healthcare exchange.
A lawsuit was filed by four residents of Virginia, one of the many states that did not create its own insurance exchange. The individuals did not want to buy health insurance and argued that because the federal exchange was not a state-created exchange, they did not think they were eligible for the subsidy payments. Without the assistance of the subsidies, the insurance costs for the four residents would have been more than 8 percent of their annual income, which would have exempted them from the law’s coverage requirement.
The residents first filed their case in a Federal District Court, which dismissed the suit and held that the law made tax credits available to those enrolled in the federal exchange. The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s ruling.
The case then made it’s way to the Supreme Court, where once again it was ruled subsidies were allowed through the federal exchange under the terms of the Act.
Over the past few months, U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, has said several times that Republicans in Congress were watching the case to see how to proceed in trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Now that the ruling has been issued, Roe said Congress must continue to work toward finding an alternative to the law.
“The president’s health care bill is so deeply flawed it cannot be fixed, and today’s ruling does not change that fact. Folks around the country are still struggling because of Obamacare, and I will continue the fight to bring certainty to the American health care system and to transition away from this monstrosity to a patient-centered, market-based health care system.”
Roe is not the only Tennessee lawmaker who has spoken out regarding the case and voicing opposition to the ACA.
“It’s unfortunate that the Supreme Court didn’t read the law the way that Congress wrote it,” U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said. “The 36 percent increase in some individual health care rates announced recently should remind Tennesseans that Obamacare was an historic mistake.
“It gave Americans higher health care costs while reducing our choices of health plans, doctors and hospitals,” added Alexander, who serves as Chairman of the Senate health committee. “Republicans are ready to reduce the cost of health care so more people can afford it, put patients back in charge, and restore freedom and choice to the health care market.”
Alexander’s comments were echoed by his colleague U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)
“Today’s ruling affirms that it is up to Congress to come together around a responsible solution that provides relief from the damaging effects of the president’s health care law, including policies to provide far greater choice in the marketplace so affordable plans that meet the actual needs of Tennesseans can openly and effectively compete for their business,” said Corker.
While many Republicans spoke out against the ruling on Thursday, Democrats praised the decision by the court.
“We are relieved for the nearly 200,000 Tennesseans who will continue to have access to affordable health care,” Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini said. “It’s clear that the Supreme Court justices did the right thing in looking at the intent of the law rather than siding with a twisted interpretation of individual phrases.”
“The Affordable Care Act has saved lives and will continue help build a healthier America,” she added. “The TNDP will continue to work to ensure every Tennessean has access to affordable health care, especially those in the ‘insurance gap’ left by the Republican failure to pass Insure Tennessee. For Democrats, the fight for strong families and effective government is not over, even with this ruling.”