- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The American Cancer Society and other anti-disease groups told the Supreme Court Tuesday there is no evidence that Congress wanted to limit Obamacare’s subsidies to states with their own health exchanges.

In a friend-of-the-court brief, the groups said a decision this term to yank the subsidies from states that rely on the federal HealthCare.gov portal would put 9.6 million people at risk of losing coverage, and make them more susceptible to chronic disease.

“The deliberations that led to passage of the Affordable Care Act made it clear that Congress intended for consumers in both federal and state exchanges who meet income eligibility requirements to receive financial assistance that would enable them to afford health insurance,” the groups said in a joint statement Tuesday.

The court will decide by June if the IRS unlawfully extended subsidies to at least 34 states federal-exchange states, since the 2010 health law referred to exchanges “established by the state.”

Administration lawyers say the Health and Human Services Department can stand in for states that refused to set up their own marketplaces, so customers in those states should enjoy the premium tax credits.

But Republican lawmakers, eyeing a chance to take down Obamacare, have backed the lawsuit’s premise — that Congress used the subsidies to entice states to set up their own exchanges.

The chronic disease groups say that’s hogwash.

“Our organizations would have strenuously objected to any suggestion that the physical and financial health of patients with serious diseases should depend on the entity administering the exchange in their state,” the groups said. “We would have objected even more strongly to any legislative provision that used patients’ well-being as a bargaining chip to induce states to establish their own exchanges.”

The cancer society was joined in its brief by the American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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