Did the Supreme Court Get Snookered During Obamacare Oral Arguments?

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Andrew Sprung has been on a crusade over the past month over a single issue brought up during the Supreme Court’s oral arguments over Obamacare. The issue is catastrophic coverage, and today he summarizes everything he’s written about it:

In his oral argument against the constitutionality of the ACA’s individual mandate on March 27, plaintiff’s counsel Michael Carvin asserted, “Congress prohibits anyone over 30 from buying any kind of catastrophic health insurance” (p. 105).

That is not true — the ACA provides the catastrophic coverage option for others exempt from the mandate, e.g. on grounds of financial hardship. And that factual error signals a greater distortion, one that was not countered and apparently made a major impression on Justices Alito, Roberts and Scalia: that the mandate forces Americans to buy coverage greatly in excess of what’s required to offset the cost of catastrophic care for those lacking health insurance. No one pointed out that a) the ACA provides a catastrophic coverage option for those under 30; b) that it extends that option to others exempt from the mandate on financial or other grounds; or c) that the bronze plans offered in the exchanges, as the Kaiser Family Foundation recently detailed, might also reasonably be labeled “catastrophic” coverage.

Andrew suggests that the Obama administration should try to file a supplemental brief with the court: “One way or another, it seems to me worthwhile to try to reach Justice Kennedy and/or one of his colleagues with a two-track argument: 1) the mandate is properly ‘minimized’; Congress exercised what you might call a self-limiting principle; and 2) if you don’t think it is sufficiently minimized, limit it further without killing it.”

There’s more at the link, and even more links at the link. It’s worth a read.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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