The Supreme Court rejected a challenge to Obamacare this morning. The closely followed case further cements the Affordable Care Act, which has been of deep concern for wood manufacturing businesses large and small.
The decision, rendered by Chief Justice John Roberts in a 6-3 decision (with Justices Alito, Thomas, and Scalia dissenting), turned on whether individuals in those states that did not set up insurance exchanges were still required to buy health insurance (or pay a penalty to the IRS), determined that language in the statue referring to "an exchange established by the State" could be construed to cover both individual state health exchanges and the Federal exchange used where states hadn't established their own.
The Supreme Court ruling summarized the challenge in this language:
Petitioners were four individuals who live in Virginia, which has a Federal Exchange. They do not wish to purchase health insurance. In their view, Virginia’s Exchange does not qualify as “an Exchange established by the State under [42 U. S. C. §18031],” so they should not receive any tax credits. That would make the cost of buying insurance more than eight percent of petitioners’ income, exempting them from the Act’s coverage requirement. As a result of the IRS Rule, however, petitioners would receive tax credits. That would make the cost of buying insurance less than eight percent of their income, which would subject them to the Act’s coverage requirement.
In his rationale for the ruling Chief Justice Roberts concluded:
The argument that the phrase “established by the State” would be superfluous if Congress meant to extend tax credits to both State and Federal Exchanges is unpersuasive.....
Petitioners’ plain-meaning ar guments are strong, but the Act’s context and structure compel the conclusion that Section 36B allows tax credits for insurance purchased on any Exchange created under the Act. Those credits are necessary for the Federal Exchanges to function like their State Exchange counterparts, and to avoid the
type of calamitous result that Congress plainly meant to avoid.
A previous challenge to tenets of the law - brought by Conestoga Wood Specialties and Hobby Lobby - resulted in a judgment favoring the wood industry challengers on religious grounds over mandatory funding of birth control services.
The Affordable Care Act was also the subject of a long analysis by popular woodworking commentator Paul Downs, owner of Paul Downs Cabinetmakers. Downs, based in Bridgeport, Pennsylvania, calculated his firm saved 19 percent purchasing health insurance through his state exchange. Downs is among speakers at the AWFS Fair 2015 in Las Vegas next month.
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