NASHVILLE - Two Tennessee Republican congressmen are hailing today's announcement that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a new challenge to the Affordable Care Act.
The justices will decide whether the law authorizes the Internal Revenue Service to approve tax subsidies aimed at helping millions of low- to middle-income people pay for health insurance through federally operated exchanges.
According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 151,352 Tennesseans had selected a private insurance plan through the federally operated exchange. That came after Republican Gov. Bill Haslam refused to set up a state-run exchange.
It was not immediately clear how many of these are eligible for subsidies.
The announcement drew praise from U.S. Reps. Scott DesJarlais and Diane Black.
"I have said from the beginning that this issue presents the best chance of finally abolishing President Obama's health care law," DesJarlais, a South Pittsburg physician, said in a statement.
"It is beyond clear that the Internal Revenue Service violated our Constitution's separation of powers by re-writing a major portion of the Affordable Care Act - an action reserved exclusively for Congress," he said. "This goes beyond health care to the very heart of our nation's democratic system of government. I hope the justices will rule accordingly by striking down this unconstitutional power grab by the Obama administration."
Black, a former nurse, said the Obama administration "has been potentially doling out billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies without the proper statutory authority."
"If the president has been overstepping his authority as the text of the ACA suggests, this means that his administration has been misrepresenting the true costs of Obamacare to millions of Americans across the country," Black said in a statement.
"Even more worrisome," Black said, "is what implications this could have for Americans who have already received subsidies and may be on the hook for back taxes, all due to the president's recklessness in implementing this unworkable law."