Apparently no one read new health law very carefully. In two spots, it says tax credits are available for people who buy insurance “through an exchange established by the state.” But 36 states opted not to establish exchanges, so is the act effectively dead in those states? Four lawsuits say “yes.”
The Affordable Care Act proposes to make health insurance affordable to millions of low-income Americans by offering them tax credits to help cover the cost. To receive the credit, the law twice says they must buy insurance “through an exchange established by the state.”
But 36 states have decided against opening exchanges for now. Although the law permits the federal government to open exchanges instead, it does not say tax credits may be given to those who buy insurance through a federally run exchange. . . .
[C]ritics of the law have seized on the glitch. They have filed four lawsuits that urge judges to rule the Obama administration must abide by the strict wording of the law, even if doing so dismantles it in nearly two-thirds of the states.
So, who is going to win? I’m guessing the Administration. Here’s a statement of blackletter law on the issue, from Corpus Juris Secundum:
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The spirit or intention of a statute generally prevails over its letter. However, where the law is free and clear from ambiguity, the letter of the statute is not to be disregarded on the pretext of pursuing its spirit.