Republicans opposed to Obamacare are seeing Tuesday's ruling by a panel of judges at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia as a major decision that exposes the Democratic rush to pass the flawed bill, and could ultimately bring the law to its knees.
The Court ruled Tuesday that the law does not permit the government to provide subsidies to people who buy Obamacare from the federal healthcare exchange. Instead, a plain reading of the law says subsidies are only allowed for people who buy insurance under a state-run exchange.
Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio joined other Republicans in saying Tuesday's court ruling against Obamacare shows the law has become unworkable. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
As of July, only 14 states plus the District of Columbia are running their own exchanges. As a result, the ruling threatens to eliminate subsidies for potentially millions of people who bought insurance under the federal exchange.
"We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance," the majority of the panel wrote. "At least until states that wish to can set up exchanges, our ruling will likely have a significant consequences for millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly."
Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz from Texas were quick to pounce on the decision as one that reveals the Obama administration's ongoing attempts to implement the law in a way that exceeds the parameters set in the law that Democrats themselves devised and passed. Cruz called the ruling a "repudiation of Obamacare and all the lawlessness that has come with it."
"The Obama administration, through the Internal Revenue Service, has attempted to dispense revenues to the states without proper congressional authorization, robbing Congress of its constitutionally-provided power of the purse," Cruz said. "This decision restores power to Congress and to the people and if properly enforced, should shield citizens from Obamacare's insidious penalties, mandates, and subsidies."
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the ruling shows Obamacare is essentially unworkable, since it means premiums for millions of people will have to rise in lieu of subsidies.
"It cannot be fixed," Boehner said of the law. "The American people recognize that Obamacare is hurting our economy and making it harder for small businesses to hire, and that's why Republicans remain committed to repealing the law and replacing it with solutions that will lower health care costs and protect American jobs."
Boehner also noted that the ruling marks the second time in the last few weeks that a court has ruled against Obamacare. In late June, the Supreme Court found in favor of Hobby Lobby in a ruling that supported the religious freedom not to cover certain contraceptives.
Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) agreed that the ruling is "another blow" to the healthcare law, and shows the administration has been handing out subsidies without any statutory authority.
"And to make matters worse, this means that the president has been misrepresenting the true costs of health coverage to millions of American families," she said.
Black and other Republicans have argued that the administration is failing to determine people's eligibility for subsidies ion the first place, which could mean thousands are receiving subsidies they should not have received. Tuesday's ruling could remove subsidies for millions of others.
"Sadly, this is yet another example of this president overstepping his own authority in order to implement this unworkable law," Black said. "At some point one must wonder whether anyone in the White House bothered to read Obamacare before they let the president sign it."
States with their own health insurance exchanges are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. In addition, the District of Columbia has its own exchange, and is the one that members of Congress are required to use to buy their health insurance policies.