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Will: Is this Obamacare's four-word Waterloo?

Someone you probably are not familiar with has filed a suit you probably have not heard about concerning a four-word phrase you should know about. The suit could blow to smithereens something everyone has heard altogether too much about, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (hereafter, ACA).

Scott Pruitt and some kindred spirits might accelerate the ACA's collapse by blocking another of the Obama administration's lawless uses of the Internal Revenue Service. Pruitt was elected Oklahoma's attorney general by promising to defend states' prerogatives against federal encroachments and today he and some properly litigious people elsewhere are defending a state prerogative that the ACA explicitly created. If they succeed, the ACA's disintegration will accelerate.

Because under the ACA, insurance companies cannot refuse coverage because of an individual's pre-existing condition. Because many people might therefore wait to purchase insurance after they become sick, the ACA requires a mandate to compel people to buy insurance. And because many people cannot afford the insurance that satisfies the ACA's criteria, the ACA mandate makes it necessary to provide subsidies for those people.

The four words that threaten disaster for the ACA say the subsidies shall be available to persons who purchase health insurance in an exchange “established by the state.” But 34 states have chosen not to establish exchanges.

So the IRS, which is charged with enforcing the ACA, has ridden to the rescue of Barack Obama's pride and joy. Taking time off from writing regulations to restrict the political speech of Obama's critics, the IRS has said, with its breezy indifference to legality, that subsidies shall also be dispensed to those who purchase insurance through federal exchanges the government has established in those 34 states. Pruitt is challenging the IRS in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, and there are similar challenges in Indiana, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

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