BOOM: The historic proof that Obamacare foes are dead wrong on subsidies
The story of whether Congress ever intended to limit Obamacare subsidies to state-based exchanges begins and ends with the Congressional Budget Office. And what it reveals about the latest legal threat to Obamacare dramatically undercuts the arguments against the law. No one person or institution was more central to the debate over Obamacare than the CBO. Every tweak to the law was funneled through the accounting brains of the nonpartisan congressional scorekeeper to determine how much it would cost. Passage of the entire law hinged on its reports. Votes were delayed until CBO could finish its scoring. Specific provisions lived or died by its decrees. It is safe to say that the health care reform law we have today is in large part the result of the CBO’s work. But like everybody else on Capitol Hill in 2009 and 2010, from legislators to the journalists who covered them, the CBO’s quants never even considered the scenario that Obamacare faces today. A federal appeals court has ruled in Halbig v. Burwell that the law’s crucial subsidies are not available on the federal insurance exchange, HealthCare.gov, putting coverage for nearly 5 million people in 36 states at risk. That outcome, as bad as it would be for the uninsured, would dramatically lower the cost of Obamacare—but the CBO never entertained that possibility for the same reason no one else did: It was not how the law was supposed to work. Dylan Scott, Talking Points Memo, 8-1-14.