Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, discussed two new federal court rulings on the Affordable Care Act with the Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC.
On Tuesday morning, a split U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down tax subsidies in 34 states that have federally run health exchanges in the case of Halbig v. Burwell.
Just two hours later, however, a unanimous U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled in favor of those subsidies in the case of King v. Burwell, calling the IRS rule at the center of the controversy “a permissible exercise of the agency’s discretion.”
“What makes this case so interesting is [that] it was really about the meaning of statutory language,” Rosen told Sharpton on Politics Nation. “The [Affordable Care Act] says you can get tax credits if the exchange is created by a state.”
“The literal-minded reading, which the D.C. court bought, is that a federally created exchange can’t get the credits,” he went on. “The Virginia court and the Obama administration said this makes no sense. … [I]t was really a triumph of hyper-literalism over the context Congress cleared intended.”
How might the Supreme Court rule in these cases?
“That’s the $60,000 question,” Rosen said. “Obviously, [Chief Justice John Roberts] cared a lot about the legitimacy of the Court before and was uncomfortable with the spectacle of five Republicans denying health care over the dissents of four Democrats.”
“Given the extreme technicality of the [D.C. Circuit] majority decision here,” he concluded, “I wouldn’t be surprised if [Roberts] agreed once again that the subsidies should go forward.”
Watch the full segment below or on MSNBC.com.
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