You may recall the circuit panel ruling in Halbig v. Burwell this past Summer. This is a little case with huge potential implications for the ACA. I say potential because the panel holding was quickly vacated by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.
With open enrollment for ‘Obamacare’ in 2015 starting in mid-November, experts are predicting big increases in premiums in many states. According to an analysis from PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute, health plans sold through the ACA exchanges are going to increase an average of 7.5% next year. (based on preliminary data from 27 states and the District of Columbia)
As we noted here, the DC Circuit has vacated its panel decision deciding the ACA shoud be enforced as it reads to NOT allow subsidies sold outside of state health exchanges (i.e., through the federal exchange). This was a huge holding, but the odds were stacked against its survival within the more liberal DC Circuit.
The legal challenges to the ACA just keep on coming. We discussed the mixed bag that was the Hobby Lobby decision last month. For July, it is Halbig v. Burwell. Here is the skinny:
Supreme Court decisions are a lot like used car sale ads in the newspaper. You really should read the fine print. Facebook and Twitter are ablaze today as people paying nominal attention to their email inbox or news feed on Facebook simultaneously rejoice and rage about the ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
The crisis that was (is) the uninsured was a primary justification for the passage of the ACA. "We have 40 million people without health insurance! We have to do something." And something they did. A massive expansion of the public into the private sector. The cancellation of more than 4 million existing health insurance policies. Double-digit increases in premiums costs, etc.
On April 1st (yes, April Fool's Day even), the Obama Administration declared that they had reached their "goal" (scare quotes used because they had refused to say it was their goal just a few weeks ago) of 7,000,000 million "sign ups" for ACA compliant policies through healthcare.gov, the state exchanges, and other enrollment methods. This was heralded as a victory by media outlets and administration officials and a "in your face" moment for opponents and critics of the ACA. So, everything is awesome now! We are all good. Everybody is loving it right? This is now a huge success. So, at any moment, congressional Democrats will be picking up the Obamacare banner and waving it proudly whereas only days before they were in full retreat. Right?
Hobby Lobby will stand before the Supreme Court today to plead its case on why it should not be forced to offer abortion pills in the health insurance plan it provides for its employees. You may recall that the Obama Administration has tried to "accommodate" religious institutions, but its "accommodation" is illusory at best. That is another lawsuit. In Hobby Lobby's case, no accommodation or reprieve has been offered.