Conflicting rulings on the federal health care law might have to be resolved by the United States Supreme Court, according to Sen. Mike Johanns.
Johanns expects the Obama Administration to request the entire Washington, D.C. appellate court to reconsider a ruling unfavorable to the law. Johanns, a Republican, says that might work. Johanns notes Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, changed the rules on judicial confirmations, allowing Democrats – in his words – to use simple-majority votes to stack the court with their hand-picked judges.
“You know, Democrats stick together and there’s been a number of judges confirmed to the D.C. circuit. That may tilt the balance in favor of overruling what the three-judge panel decided,” Johanns says. “But, at the end of the day, it seems to me that these cases are probably headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. That’s what I think is going to happen.”
A three-judge panel in the D.C. circuit ruled 2-1 that the federal government couldn’t subsidize the purchase of health insurance through the federal exchange. Thirty-six states, including Nebraska, operate under the federal exchange.
Only a couple of hours later, another appellate court in Richmond, VA upheld the subsidies for those in the federal exchange on a 3-0 vote.
Johanns says a definitive legal ruling has yet to be reached.
“The Richmond court, and I’ve got the opinion in front of me, said that the defendants had the stronger position, that would be basically the government, and then they went on to say, quote ‘although only slightly’ unquote,” Johanns says. “So, they know they’re out there on pretty thin ice and so what I would suggest is that this probably is going to be resolved at the Supreme Court level.”
The courts upheld subsidies for those getting coverage under state exchanges.
AUDIO: Sen. Mike Johanns reacts to conflicting ACA rulings. [2:20]