The challenge to Obamacare in King v. Burwell always seemed rather strange to health policy wonks. The plantiffs focused on just four words in the law to argue that Obamacare's drafters didn't want subsidies to be provided in states using federal insurance exchanges, even though when combined with other provisions of the law, this would wreak havoc on those states' insurance markets.
It was unclear why anyone would have wanted the law to do such a thing — particularly when everyone involved with the drafting of the law said they had no such intention.
Indeed, even the most conservative justices on the Supreme Court once acknowledged that the federal exchanges couldn't function as intended without the subsidies — as Chief Justice John Roberts decided to cheekily point out in his opinion ruling for the administration:
Roberts trolls the dissenters by pointing out their own words in Sebelius pic.twitter.com/lWoLbYwsou— Irin Carmon (@irin) June 25, 2015
Yup, that's John Roberts quoting the four conservatives who dissented from the first big Supreme Court health care case back in 2012. "Without the federal subsidies ... the exchanges would not operate as Congress intended and may not operate at all," they wrote at the time. Regardless of the fog thrown up around this since, Roberts seems to be saying, at one point Congress's intent was well understood.
(h/t: MSNBC's Irin Carmon.)