Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Follow Rule of Law in Deciding King V. Burwell

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Follow Rule of Law in Deciding King V. Burwell

Article excerpt

The Post-Dispatch ran an editorial taking issue with the challengers' arguments in King v. Burwell, the new Supreme Court case about the Affordable Care Act's health care exchanges ("Have dog, won't hunt," March 6). The editorial also criticized us for a brief we filed in that case about Missouri voters' decision not to set up a health care exchange.

The Post-Dispatch did not read our brief very carefully. It misstated which Missouri referendum our brief is all about, not a small error.

But perhaps more tellingly, the Post-Dispatch suggested the case ought to be determined by what it characterized as the "fair" outcome. The Post-Dispatch was wrong about that, too. This case, like all cases, ought to be decided by what the law says. That's the essence of the rule of law.

King v. Burwell is about whether the Internal Revenue Service can override the plain language of the Affordable Care Act, which provides that federal subsidies are available to individuals to purchase health insurance only on exchanges established by states not on exchanges established by the federal government.

Missouri citizens voted in 2012 not to establish a state exchange. According to the ACA's text, that means federal insurance subsidies should not be spent in Missouri. More importantly, it means no Missourian who qualifies for a federal subsidy should be required to purchase ACA-mandated insurance, on an exchange or anywhere else.

The Post-Dispatch accused us of overreading Missouri voters' intentions. It said we misconstrued a 2010 referendum about the individual mandate to have some bearing on the debate over state exchanges.

But our argument has nothing to do with the 2010 referendum. Our brief is about the statewide vote two years later on the specific question whether to establish a state exchange. Over 60 percent of those voting said no. And they did so amid news reports that declining to set up an exchange would mean federal subsidies might be unavailable in Missouri.

In light of these facts, our argument is simple. The ACA invited Missouri voters to create a state exchange. They voted no. The Obama administration's attempt to rewrite the rules spending federal subsidies and enforcing the mandates in Missouri anyway would effectively nullify the choice of Missouri voters. …

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