Is this the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning? From ThinkProgress:
On Tuesday, two Republican judges voted to rewrite this history. Under Halbig v. Burwell, a decision handed down by Judge Raymond Randolph, a Bush I appointee, and Judge Thomas Griffith, a Bush II appointee, millions of Americans will lose the federal health insurance subsidies provided to them under the Affordable Care Act — or, at least, they will lose these subsidies if Randolph and Griffith’s decision is ultimately upheld on appeal.
The two Republicans’ decision rests on a glorified typo in the Affordable Care Act itself. Obamacare gives states a choice. They can either run their own health insurance exchange where their residents may buy health insurance, and receive subsidies to help them pay for that insurance if they qualify, or they can allow the federal government to run that exchange for them. Yet the plaintiffs’ in this case uncovered a drafting error in the statute where it appears to limit the subsidies to individuals who obtain insurance through “an Exchange established by the State.” Randolph and Griffith’s opinion concludes that this drafting error is the only thing that matters. In their words, “a federal Exchange is not an ‘Exchange established by the State,’” and that’s it. The upshot of this opinion is that 6.5 million Americans will lose their ability to afford health insurance, according to one estimate.
Done in by a drafting error. Huh.
I think I am being too hopeful about it being the end of the beginning and that maybe the country will get serious about a national healthcare policy that includes true universal responsibilities and cost controls. After all, if you’re still receiving insurance from your employer, there’s probably no rush on your part. You probably feel either distant compassion for those of us poor souls who have to put up with this ACA crap or indignant that we are insufficiently grateful for the miserly coverage we are forced to pay for.
But the Republicans might have done us a favor for being the obstinate, selfish, mean-spirited, take-no-prisoners, uncompromising assholes that they are. At some point, the sheer weight of all of this pigheadedness, coupled with insurance insecurity, may actually provoke a backlash against them and we could end up with Democratic congresspersons motivated to actually fix the gigantic flaws in this byzantine, unworkable and deeply unsatisfying act.
Well, we can dream.
Update: Top comment from the NYTimes article on the same subject shows the bitterness towards the Democrats who compromised too much:
Someday, our nation will adopt single payer. The Democrats in name only in Congress sold the people down-the-river by failing to adopt a public option.
The blame lies with Sen. Max Baucus and the former Senator from Aetna, Joe Lieberman, among others.
We also have a president who was not willing to argue forcefully enough for the public option, as Obama is also a centrist Democrat elected to maintain the status quo while pretending to offer hope and change, just as another centrist Democrat, from a town called hope, allowed Wall Street to hijack his better angels.
That’s assuming they actually had better angels, Kevin.