Plaintiffs suing the Obama administration over offering Obamacare subsidies in state where the federal governments run the health care exchanges filed a petition Thursday afternoon asking the Supreme Court to take up their case.
Attorneys in King v. Burwell, one of several ongoing cases that target whether the text of the health care law allows for federally-run exchange customers to receive taxpayer subsidies, asked the top court to issue a final ruling on the case.
While the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week in favor the Obama administration’s position, which would allow subsidies for federal exchange customers, the D.C. Circuit court of appeals ruled just hours before that the text of the law made subsidies for federal customers impermissible.
The Fourth Circuit decided that the language of the law in question is “ambiguous” in a decidedly pro-Obamacare opinion. The court charged that King and the other plaintiffs should be forced to pay the “tiny tax penalty” for going without health insurance.
“What they may not do,” Gregory wrote, “is rely on our help to deny to millions of Americans desperately-needed health insurance through a tortured, nonsensical construction of a federal statute whose manifest purpose, as revealed by the wholeness and coherence of its text and structure, could not be more clear.” (RELATED: Second Federal Court Rushes To Save Obamacare From Devastating Ruling)
The petition to the Supreme Court cites recently-uncovered videos of Obamacare’s chief architect Jonathan Gruber in which he appears to support the position that subsidies were intended for state-run exchanges only. (RELATED: Obamacare Architect Argued Years Ago That States Without Exchanges Can’t Get Subsidies)
For his part, Gruber, who has signed onto an amicus brief which supports the Obama administration’s position, claims both incidents were simply a “speak-o, like a typo.” But supporters of the interpretation that subsidies are meant to go to state exchanges only have pointed out that not only did Gruber suggest that the text of the law states subsidies are only for state exchanges, but he also provided an argument for why Congress would have done so.
“That is really the ultimate threat,” Gruber said at a 2012 event, “will people understand that gee, if your governor doesn’t set up an exchange, you’re losing hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits to be delivered to your citizens. So that’s the other threat, is will states do what they need to do to set it up.” (RELATED: Obamacare Architect Says AGAIN That Subsidies Were Only Supposed To Go To State Exchanges)
Gruber’s opinion is cited in the petition as all the more reason that the Supreme Court should take the case.
“You’ve got a huge, huge statute that was passed in a very unorthodox manner and I think it’s very difficult to draw any single, overriding intent out of that,” said Sam Kazman, general counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is coordinating the King lawsuit.
“On Obamacare, last week started out with a circuit split and ended with a Jonathan Gruber split,” Kazman said in a statement. “Our hope is the Supreme Court will at least resolve the former.”