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Congressman Jason Smith

Representing the 8th District of Missouri

Congressman Smith Statement on the Supreme Court’s Ruling in the Case King v. Burwell

Jun 25, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the Supreme Court ruled in the case King v. Burwell that individuals purchasing health care coverage on the federal exchange are eligible for federal tax subsidies.

The text of the Affordable Care Act specifically included subsidies for health care purchased on state exchanges. It did not list such a subsidy for health care purchased on the federal exchange, Today’s decision is a textbook example of court overreach, legislating from the bench, and side-stepping Congress.

“I am disappointed with the Court’s decision,” said Congressman Smith. “Democrats rammed Obamacare through without a single Republican vote and without regard for the consequences. Today the Supreme Court interpreted the law not as it was written, but the way they wished it was written.

“The American people deserve better than a court trying to patch disastrous legislation. Families in southeast and southern Missouri deserve patient-centered health care that puts them in charge. They need more options and better access to providers to bring down the cost of health care.”

In making the argument to stretch the definition of “Exchange established by the State” to include “Exchange established by the State or Federal Government,” Chief Justice John Roberts quoted the landmark case Marbury v. Madison. In that case the Supreme Court wrote, “In a democracy, the power to make the law rests with those chosen by the people. Our role is more confined—to say what the law is.” But, today in King v. Burwell, the Court did just the opposite and remade the law from the bench.

Justice Antonin Scalia disagreed with the majority of the Court, arguing that the law was clear. He wrote, “Words no longer have meaning” if an exchange set up by the Federal Government is considered an exchange set up by the State. Scalia went on to say that “Today’s interpretation is not merely unnatural; it is unheard of. Who would ever have dreamt that ‘Exchange established by the State’ means ‘Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government’?”

It’s the role of Congress to make and change laws, and Republicans have continued to undertake improvements to our health care system that put patients first, not the federal government. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal the medical device tax which gets passed along to patients and only makes health care more expensive. This week the House also voted to repeal the board of unelected officials in charge of rationing Medicare, called the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). 

“Both the medical device tax and IPAB are products of the flawed Affordable Care Act,” Congressman Smith said. “Repealing them represents a small step toward freeing folks from Obamacare’s fundamental problems and placing medical decisions back in the hands of patients and their doctors, instead of Washington bureaucrats.”