It is likely the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether subsidies for insurance coverage under the federal healthcare reform law will continue to be available, after conflicting federal appeals court rulings about them this week.
One ruling upholds subsidies for insurance purchased on the federal exchange, one says the law only provides them for insurance purchased on state exchanges.
The case carries extra meaning in Missouri, where the Republican-led legislature opted not to create a state exchange.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D) believes in the end, the subsidies will be upheld.
“We’ve had a number of court decisions on this issue and most of them have said that the subsidies are perfectly fine in the federal exchanges, so I think ultimately that position will prevail in the courts,” says McCaskill. “It has been the dominant decision in the courts that have considered it.”
The other option would be for Congress to change the law to clarify that those subsidies are OK, but Senator McCaskill says that is unlikely.
“It would be great to fix it along with other things that we’d like to fix in the health care bill, unfortunately it’s being wielded as strictly a political weapon by the Republican party right now,” says McCaskill. “They will not come to the table and fix things that need to be fixed because they think it diminishes their ability to win elections around this issue.”
Senator Roy Blunt (R) says the conflicting rulings are the result of courts trying to sort out a law that didn’t go to conference between the two chambers.
“The law was poorly written, it was poorly structured, it was crammed down the throats of the minority in both the House and the Senate,” says Blunt.
Discussing the case potentially reaching the Supreme Court, Blunt tells Missourinet affiliate KZRG in Joplin, “Ultimately this gives John Roberts maybe a chance to redeem himself and look at this law one more time, and decide it’s really not the best thing for the country and was done in the worst possible way.”
Blunt refers to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who delivered the majority opinion when the Court upheld the constitutionality of the “Affordable Care Act.” Roberts, an appointee of President George W. Bush, has been heavily criticized by conservatives for voting to uphold that law.