As the Supreme Court prepares to hear a case involving the question of whether the ACA allows subsidies for those in state-run exchanges only or in federal exchanges as well, Orrin Hatch is outraged that the Obama administration is taking the exact same position he took when the law was passed.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell appeared at a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday morning, where she was promptly confronted with questions about a lawsuit seeking to gut much of the Affordable Care Act. Immediately after Burwell completed her opening statement, committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) asked a series of questions about King v. Burwell, a lawsuit claiming that tax subsidies that are intended to help people pay for health insurance are not available in states that elected to have the federal government set up a health exchange within their state. The interpretation of Obamacare offered by Hatch during the hearing, however, is at odds with Hatch’s own reading of the law when it was being debated in Congress.
During the hearing, Hatch claimed that the language of the Affordable Care Act “is unambiguous, in my opinion,” and that it unambiguously denies subsidies to people unfortunate enough to live in the wrong state. Yet, in January of 2010 — long before it became advantageous for Republicans to bolster the arguments being made against the law in the Supreme Court — Hatch co-authored an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal which took the opposite view. In that op-ed, Hatch explained that a state’s decision to set up its own exchange, as opposed to allowing the federal government to do this work for them, “is not a condition for receiving federal funds, which would still leave some kind of choice to the states.”
What do you do when your previously stated position suddenly becomes inconvenient for you in pushing your political agenda? Well, you just declare a new position and pretend that you never had an old one.