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Pending high court case could have had big-time ramifications for Idaho

Pending high court case could have had big-time ramifications for Idaho

Geoffrey Talmon
November 13, 2014

The Supreme Court of the United States will hear yet another Obamacare case. It is King v. Burwell, a case challenging Obamacare’s subsidy scheme as it applies to states with federal exchanges rather than state ones.

At the heart of King v. Burwell is the decision by Congress to apply Obamacare’s subsidies to exchanges “established by the State.” Challengers to the law believe that this means that only state exchanges will be subject to the subsidies and penalties contained in the act, meaning that the majority of states with federal exchanges (34 of them) would not be impacted by them.

On this issue, the courts have been divided thus far. The Fourth Circuit denied the challengers’ claim, resulting in the appeal that will be heard at the Supreme Court. The D.C. Circuit initially ruled in favor of the challengers, although that ruling has been set aside pending reconsideration by the full D.C. Circuit.

Although the setting aside of the D.C. Circuit ruling means that there is not a technical circuit split for the Supreme Court to address, the court has elected to move to decide the issue quickly, before the subsidies become too ingrained in the system to undo if struck down.

As Wayne Hoffman noted in his blog post, however, this case may end up having little effect on Idaho because the Idaho Legislature elected to establish a state exchange rather than force the federal government to implement a federal one.

Thus, while some states may end up being shielded from the effects of Obamacare by having opted to not establish a state exchange, Idaho willingly threw open the doors and welcomed Obamacare’s subsidies and penalties into the Gem State.

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