Paul Krugman Decimates 'Rabidly Partisan' Judges for Threatening Obamacare Based on Typo

The Supreme Court's decision to hear the case is a terrible omen.

Photo Credit: via YouTube

It is a terrible sign that the Supreme Court decided to hear a blatantly "partisan" and "frivolous" case challenging Obamacare last week, Paul Krugman writes Monday.  What kind of sick perverters of justice would be willing to deprive millions of Americans of health care based on a typo?

Ugghh, on second thought, don't answer that.

And it is a typo, make no mistake. As Krugman writes:

Last week the court shocked many observers by saying that it was willing to hear a case claiming that the wording of one clause in the Affordable Care Act sets drastic limits on subsidies to Americans who buy health insurance. It’s a ridiculous claim; not only is it clear from everything else in the act that there was no intention to set such limits, you can ask the people who drafted the law what they intended, and it wasn’t what the plaintiffs claim. But the fact that the suit is ridiculous is no guarantee that it won’t succeed — not in an environment in which all too many Republican judges have made it clear that partisan loyalty trumps respect for the rule of law.

Krugman goes on to explain the “three-legged stool” which provides the structure for the Affordable Care Act. Insurance companies must insure everyone and are forbidden to discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions. Everyone must buy insurance, including healthy people, to keep it affordable for all. Poor Americans receive subsidies—those subsidies, and the manner in which they are delivered, are the rub. Krugman explains:

To receive subsidies, Americans must buy insurance through so-called exchanges, government-run marketplaces. These exchanges, in turn, take two forms. Many states have chosen to run their own exchanges, like Covered California or Kentucky’s Kynect. Other states, however — mainly those under G.O.P. control — have refused to take an active role in insuring the uninsured, and defaulted to exchanges run by the federal government (which are working well now that the original software problems have been resolved).

But if you look at the specific language authorizing those subsidies, it could be taken — by an incredibly hostile reader — to say that they’re available only to Americans using state-run exchanges, not to those using the federal exchanges.

It turns out that these "incredibly hostile readers" are sitting on a few judicial benches around the country, and a few of them may be sitting on the Supreme Court. If successful, the challenge would mean that low income people living in states that did not set up their own exchanges would lose their subsidies and, without a doubt, healthy people would drop out, eviscerating the system. "Health reform would go into a death spiral," says Krugman. "And since many people would lose crucial, lifesaving coverage, the deaths wouldn’t be just a metaphor."

There was a time when a frivolous lawsuit like this would be laughed out of court, but alas we are definitely not living in that time. "Judges who support this cruel absurdity aren’t stupid; they know what they’re doing," he writes, and we all know who he is talking about." What they are, instead, is corrupt, willing to pervert the law to serve political masters." 

Be afraid. Be very afraid.


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