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Sun gets it wrong on Obamacare exchange subsidies ruling [Letter]

Healthcare Policies and LawsAffordable Care Act (Obamacare)

In editorializing about court decisions that relied on very specific language, you intentionally misquoted the statute ("Obamacare subsidy rulings highlight GOP intransigence," July 24).

The phrase in question is not "an exchange established by the state" but is "an Exchange established by the State". And it doesn't appear just once in the statute but occurs repeatedly.

The capitalization of the words "Exchange" and "State" are important because they very specific, defined terms. The term "Exchange" refers to a health care exchange set up under the ACA by either a state or the federal government. And the term "State" refers to one of the fifty states or the District of Columbia.

The argument that when Congress allowed for tax credits for polices purchased "through an Exchange established by the State" that they just failed to include the words "or the federal government" fails miserably because if they really wanted to include the federal exchanges, they could have just omitted the words "established by the State" and left the statute just "through an Exchange." Obviously, the words "established by the State" were inserted (about a dozen times) for a reason. The only possible reason would be to exclude the federal exchanges.

When interpreting a statute, a court must first rely on the plain wording of the statute. Only if the statute is ambiguous may the court search further for legislative intent. In this case, the phrasing "an Exchange established by the State" couldn't be more clear — especially since that exact phrase was used repeatedly. Even so, because it was used repeatedly, it also shows their intent.

Please, get your facts straight.

Chuck Carlton

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To respond to this letter, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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