Recently, after wasting more than $200 million in federal cash, Cover Oregon’s Board voted to pull the plug on Oregon’s failed ObamaCare health insurance exchange and go with the federal exchange technology as the “core” of its system. The first open enrollment period for Oregonians ended last week. Oregon hopes to be back in business using the federal technology when the next enrollment period opens up on November 15.
The only problem is that―as I testified before the Board―the Affordable Care Act states some nine times that only individuals signing up through “state established exchanges” qualify for federal tax credits to make their insurance premiums more “affordable.” Those using the federal exchange aren’t eligible for these credits, although the Obama Administration has ignored the clear wording of the law and granted them anyway.
On March 25 the Federal D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on this in the Halbig v. Sebelius case. One judge seemed to telegraph how he might rule by stating, “There is an absurdity principle, but there is not a stupidity principle. If the law is just stupid, I don’t think it’s up to the court to save it.”
If the courts eventually rule against granting tax credits to those using the federal exchange, Cover Oregon’s Board may have just pushed many Oregonians out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Steve Buckstein is founder and Senior Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.