Those who support the Affordable Care Act and think it’s good policy for the country can breathe a little easier today after Dick Morris, the most inaccurate pundit in all of punditdom, predicted in an op-ed in The Hill that the law was going to be destroyed by a lawsuit filed by Oklahoma.
Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma, acting on the research of Jonathan H. Adler and Michael F. Cannon published in the Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, has brought a new lawsuit, on behalf of the state, against ObamaCare.
Unlike the suit brought by 26 state attorneys general, this lawsuit does not make a constitutional objection to the Affordable Care Act. Instead, it uses the language of the law to challenge the elaborate system of subsidies, tax credits and individual or employer mandates and fines the act has spawned.
Adler and Cannon studied the actual text of the law — something Congress never did — and found that it explicitly provided a subsidy only to those who receive their insurance through state exchanges. Indeed, the subsidies and tax credits were intended to be the carrot that induced states to set up exchanges rather than force the feds to set up their own.
The Internal Revenue Service has ruled that the language of the statute should be “interpreted” to extend the subsidies to those enrolled in state or federal exchanges, but that’s not what the law says. Section 1401 of the act, according to their article, “authorizes premium-assistance tax credits and makes them available only through state-run Exchanges.”
Not exactly a legal scholar, the brave Mr. Morris. Even if that suit succeeds (and it might), I don’t know why he thinks that would have any effect on “individuals or employer mandates and fines the act has spawned.” It would conceivably do away with subsidies for those in states that rely on federal health care exchanges because the legislatures of their state said, in essence, “screw poor people without health insurance.” But it has absolutely nothing to do with the individual mandate or the employer mandate.
Morris’ atrocious track record as a predictor of the future — he predicted a landslide for Romney last year, for example — should make fans of Obamacare sleep a little better at night.