There was an exchange during oral argument in King v Burwell on Wednesday, the case that seeks to eliminate subsidies for those getting health insurance through federal exchange rather than a state one, that was both amusing and alarming. If the court rules for the plaintiffs, more than 8 million will lose their health insurance and the Affordable Care Act will be gutted.
It led to an unintentionally amusing exchange:
SCALIA: What about Congress? You really think Congress is just going to sit there while all of these disastrous consequences ensue? I mean, how often have we come out with a decision such as the you know, the bankruptcy court decision? Congress adjusts, enacts a statute that takes care of the problem. It happens all the time. Why is that not going to happen here?VERRILLI: Well, this Congress?
The room, not surprisingly, erupted in laughter. Congratulations, Congress, you’ve literally sunk to the level of a punch line.
But more to the point, Scalia wasn’t kidding. “I don’t care what Congress you’re talking about,” he added. “If the consequences are as disastrous as you say, so many million people without insurance and whatnot – yes, I think this Congress would act.”
Does Scalia read newspapers? Does he live in a bubble? Anyone who thinks this Republican-led Congress would fix the law to make sure those 8 million people don’t lose their insurance is living in a fantasy world.