Unions Rally To Uphold Challenged ObamaCare Provisions
Union leaders and supporters rallied in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday to oppose a lawsuit which could end ObamaCare tax credits for millions of Americans.
The Supreme Court case, King v. Burwell, is part of a series of lawsuits which assert that ObamaCare was written so that only individuals in states with their own exchanges could get tax credits. Plaintiffs in the case argue that this means the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can’t provide tax credits for individuals in states that opted-out of setting up their own healthcare exchanges.
In response to the case, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) led a rally in front of the Supreme Court building to show its support for upholding the law, even the parts being challenged. If the court finds that the law only specified tax subsidies for individuals in states that set up their own exchanges, residents in all 34 states without exchanges will lose their tax credits.
Ingela Dahlgren, the executive director of SEIU Nurse Alliance of California, said she came not just because of the members she represents but out of a duty she feels for her patients.
“Taking care of my patients and taking care of all people is what I do,” Dahlgren told The Daily Caller Foundation. “Healthcare is a right; we cannot take away healthcare from the American people.”
Dahlgren, who works as a critical care nurse,said she had lost many patients simply because they didn’t have insurance. A problem, she said, ObamaCare is helping to fix.
“We cannot have 10 million American people, like you and me, without healthcare,” Dahlgren declared. “I have had people die in my arms because they didn’t have healthcare.”
Jennifer Clarke, a community advocate from New York City, came out to support the SEIU in its efforts.
“The Supreme Court is here to make a decision and we just want to show our support and let the Supreme Court know that most Americans are saying we need to keep the affordable care that we have right now,” Clarke told TheDCNF.
Clarke also believes that opponents of the law are purposely misinterpreting the language and that the federal government can offer tax credits to individuals in states without their own exchanges.
“I think people who are against the Affordable Care Act are finding little holes to poke for their own selfish purposes,” Clarke said. “It’s all about politics instead of the American people.”
Dr. Devon Fagel, a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University, noted the issue is important to him because he not only has patients, he is a patient.
“Halfway through medical school I got diagnosed with oral cancer,” Fagel told TheDCNF. “I got my treatments and was covered while in medical school but after I finished I applied for private health insurance and got denied for a preexisting condition.”
He notes that he had to go six months without insurance, just hoping his condition wouldn’t worsen. After ObamaCare finally became law, Fagel was finally able to get insurance.
Fagel is also confident the case will eventually be thrown out because the plaintiffs don’t have standing, meaning they can’t show they have been damaged from the law.
However, others rallying in front of the Supreme Court argue the law was clearly written to only allow tax credits for individuals on state exchanges and that the plaintiffs are right to challenge the actions of the IRS.
Grace-Marie Turner, the president of the Galen Institute, agrees that when it comes to interpreting the law, it’s clear individuals cannot get tax credits through the federal exchange.
“What the other side is saying, I think they really realize they don’t have a case,” Turner tells TheDCNF.
“They start to bring up all these ancillary issues of arguments including standing of the plaintiffs,” Turner said. “That has been resolved in the lower courts.”
“It’s a very consequential decision because for us it’s about healthcare but for a lot of attorneys, they’re watching this because it’s about whether or not an agency in the government can basically rewrite a statute that was passed by the elected representatives of the people,” Turner continued. “When that happens you really throw the rule of law out the window.”
The plaintiffs in the case have also alleged that the law was written in such a way as to incentivize states into starting their own exchanges, but the plan backfired when 34 states refused to do so, leaving many ineligible for tax subsidies.
This in turn prompted the federal government to offer subsidies to people in states that don’t have their own exchanges, in violation of what the law actually specified.
Turner agrees, noting that lawmakers purposely excluded language that would have allowed tax subsidies in the federal exchange. She notes that the final version of ObamaCare, which was passed into law, was the result of merging two different bills. That being S. 1796 from the Senate Finance Committee and S. 1679 from the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and Finance (HELP) committee.
While the HELP bill allowed for federal tax credits, when it was merged with the Finance Committee bill, lawmakers purposely excluded it so that only individuals in states with exchanges could get tax credit.
Kevin Broughton, the communications director for the Tea Party Patriots, is suspicious that organized labor is paying much of the crowd for their attendance.
“The other folks over here, they mind their manners, which you would expect if you were being paid to come out and protest,” Broughton claims. “They either don’t have jobs or their being paid by the SEIU or some of the other folks that have a vested interest in having their neighbors pay for their own health care.”
Broughton also contends that their argument is all emotion and that the courts should only consider the facts.
A decision in the case is likely to take several months.
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