Healthcare

Supreme Court May Rule Against Government in Obamacare Case

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Although Obamacare is still on the books, health insurance is still too expensive and increasingly expensive for many Americans and at least one reason why costs have risen more than they otherwise would have is because the Trump regime has intentionally increased costs.

You may recall that Trump and Republicans in Congress shut down Obamacare's cost-sharing program, otherwise known as risk corridors, that reimbursed insurance companies for covering a greater number of sick patients with pre-existing conditions.

Health insurance costs increased across the board after the program was repealed and the Supreme Court now appears poised to approve compensation for insurers who lost funding from the program.

The court’s four liberal justices, in addition to Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, all asked questions indicating they are inclined to vote for the insurers.

“Why doesn’t the government have to pay its contracts just like everybody else?” said Justice Stephen Breyer.

Moda Health Plan Inc and other insurers sued in an effort to compel the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to make the payments. The program in question was designed to help insurers recover from early losses they suffered after the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) under Democratic former President Barack Obama.

Republicans and even some liberals called Obamacare's cost-sharing program a "bailout" for insurance companies, but that was never the truth of the matter. The program redistributed funds to firms that covered a greater number of sick patients versus firms that covered fewer. The program lowered the cost of coverage for average Americans across the board by partially negating the increase in costs from covering people with pre-existing conditions.

Ironically, if the Supreme Court rules in favor of insurers, American taxpayers will have paid the cost of repealing the program twice over. Americans paid for high premiums when the program was repealed by Trump and they may also be asked to reimburse insurers for repealing the program.

Premiums would have risen in any case, but leaving the program in place would have limited the increase in costs and we wouldn't be looking at the possibility that the government will be ordered to pay $12 billion to insurers.

Insurance companies don't need this money and giving it to them won't lower costs, but I can't say I would necessarily disagree with the court ruling in their favor. Republicans killed the key funding program on a lie and for political reasons. That's on the GOP; it's not on insurers even if they are evil.

If the court does rule in favor of insurers in this case, that makes it seem less likely they'll strike down all of Obamacare, doesn't it?

  • muselet

    It pains me to type this, but the Supremes should rule in favor of the insurers. They got boned and deserve compensation. (Ouch.)

    If the court does rule in favor of insurers in this case, that makes it seem less likely they’ll strike down all of Obamacare, doesn’t it?

    Logically, yes. However, this is the Supreme Court, and logic seldom applies neatly. The Supremes could decide to shovel a few billions of dollars to a reliable source for R campaign contributions, then later on kill the ACA for shits and giggles.

    –alopecia

  • Nefercat

    Didn’t that orange traitor in the White House take an oath to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States”? How does repeatedly sabotaging the law of the land, duly passed by Congress and signed by the President at that time, equal faithfully executing the Office of the President?

    • Draxiar

      I think he’s more focused on the “executing” part…only it’s not in the way he was sworn to.