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King v. Burwell: Who Writes the Laws in the United States?

By Carrie Severino | March 3rd, 2015

Obamacare. It’s either the best thing since sliced bread or – as more Americans think – a deadly mix of government incompetence and intrusiveness. So when the Supreme Court decided to hear King v. Burwell, a case billed as having the potential to fatally undermine the law, both sides agreed a lot was at stake. Yet there is more riding on the case than just the survival of Obamacare. The Court’s decision this term will actually determine who ultimately writes the laws in this country: Congress or a politicized agency like the IRS.

The original Obamacare Supreme Court challenge, NFIB v. Sebelius – dealt with the constitutionality of the individual mandate. This term’s big case , by contrast, addresses the law’s subsidy provisions. And this time Obamacare’s defenders are fighting the text of the law itself.

The Affordable Care Act’s proponents assume d all states would jump at the chance to create exchanges to sell Obamcare-compliant insurance policies. But because the federal government doesn’t actually have the authority to force the states’ hand, the law also includes an escape clause: if a state fails to set up an exchange, the federal government will.

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