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Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - "Indiana urges high court to terminate Hoosiers health insurance subsidies"

Here is a timely repost of Dan Carden's Jan. 10th NWI Times story. Some quotes:

INDIANAPOLIS | Gov. Mike Pence and Attorney General Greg Zoeller are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to effectively cancel the private health insurance policies of more than 100,000 Hoosiers by the end of June.

The Republicans recently submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the nine justices supporting a lawsuit that seeks to deny federal subsidies provided by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, to individuals purchasing health insurance in states, like Indiana, that have not established a state-run insurance marketplace.

In the filing, written by Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher, a Jasper County native, the state argues any plain text reading of the 2010 health law clearly requires state creation of an insurance marketplace as a condition of that state's citizens receiving federal subsidies to purchase health insurance policies through the marketplace.

Pence ruled out Indiana establishing a state health marketplace, also known as an exchange, in one of his first pronouncements after winning election in November 2012.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly similarly has refused to create an Indiana insurance marketplace.

The governor has said he has no interest in reversing that action even though approximately 118,000 Hoosiers now receiving health insurance subsidies, worth on average $4,000 each, will lose that money — and likely their health insurance — and may even have to pay back past subsidies, if Pence's argument prevails at the Supreme Court.

"I stand by our decision not to establish a state-based exchange in Indiana," Pence said. "The truth is, I think that ordering every American to purchase health insurance — whether they want it, or need it or not — was the wrong idea to begin with, and I think Obamacare should be repealed." * * *

The Supreme Court is scheduled hear oral arguments March 4 in the case, known as King v. Burwell. A ruling is expected before the high court ends its annual term in June.

In their filing, Pence and Zoeller also take issue with an Obamacare requirement subjecting employers with more than 50 full-time employees to a tax penalty if they fail to provide essential health coverage and their workers instead purchase subsidized health insurance through the marketplace.

They argue the "employer mandate" only applies in states with a state-created marketplace, and therefore Indiana businesses should not be subject to the penalty if they choose not to provide sufficient insurance coverage for their employees.

Moreover, they claim the federal government also is requiring government employers, such as the state or Hoosier school corporations, to comply with the employer mandate, in effect imposing a prohibited intergovernmental tax and infringing on state sovereignty.

"It forces each state either to pay the tax or to engage in Congress’ desired behavior," they write. "Such a direct tax would plainly be unconstitutional if Indiana levied it on the United States, so it is hard to understand how it could be constitutional when roles are reversed."

A separate Indiana lawsuit challenging the subsidies and employer mandate, filed in October 2013 by Zoeller of behalf of the state and 39 school corporations, including East Porter County School Corp., is on hold until the Supreme Court rules in King v. Burwell.

The NWI Times story links to the State of Indiana amicus briefs in King v. Burwell and the State's complaint in Indiana v. IRS.

And from Nina Totenberg of NPR, an 8-minute story on today's oral argument, headed "Round 2: Health Care Law Faces The Supreme Court Again."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 4, 2015 09:52 AM
Posted to Indiana Government