Your Guide To The Supreme Court Case On Obamacare

With the help of The Washington Post here is what you need to know about the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, which is being challenged in the Supreme Court for the second time since it became a law back in 2010. In the first Supreme Court case in 2012 the law was upheld on the issue of the individual mandate. today, the legal challenge is focused on the taxpayer-funded premium subsidies that underpin the entire law.

The nine justices heard on Wednesday oral arguments over whether it’s legal to give out the subsidies in 34 states where the federal government established and runs the insurance exchanges, HealthCare.gov.

The debate centers on interpretation of a four-word phrase buried in the 2000-page law that says financial aid is available through “exchanges established by the state.”

The case that the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today is King v. Burwell. The case was filed by four Virginians who argue an IRS rule providing insurance subsidies in federal-run exchanges violates the text of the Affordable Care Act. The challenge, which is being funded by a libertarian think tank, argues the section of the ACA dealing with the subsidies only provides for aid in an exchange “established by the state” — and therefore, none of the nearly three dozen states with federal-run exchanges. The Obama administration and supporters say a full reading of the law makes clear that the subsidies can flow through federal-run exchanges, which they argue was the intent of Congress when they drafted the law.

Residents of 34 states that didn’t set up their own exchanges could lose their subsidies if the Supreme Court rules against the Obama administration. Residents of the remaining states running their own exchanges, including Maryland and the District of Columbia, wouldn’t be affected. Here are the states with federal-run exchanges:

An estimated 8 million people would become uninsured if the Obama administration loses, according to the independent and respected Rand Corp. projections. Premiums would increase, on average, by 47 percent in the individual markets in those states, according to the analysis. Those projections assume that the subsidies are struck and neither Washington nor the states tried to rescue them.

There have been 55 friend-of-the-court briefs filed by outside groups in this case — 34 supporting the Obama administration and 21 supporting the challengers. Those on the government’s side include health insurers, hospitals, 22 states, and senior Democrats who wrote the law. Those supporting the plaintiffs include seven states, 15 Republican lawmakers, and a host of conservative and libertarian groups.

Some handy links:

What is the Affordable Care Act?

What is likely to happen if the Court strikes down the law?

What happens if the Obama administration wins the case? 

Senate back up plan if the law is struck down?

House back up plan if the law is struck down?

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Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.