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Republicans vow to keep fighting healthcare reform despite King v. Burwell decision

GOP leaders, presidential candidates say they'll still try to repeal ACA; Justice Scalia calls majority ruling "pure applesauce"

Immediately following the Obama administration's win in a 6-3 ruling on King v. Burwell, Republican opponents of the Affordable Care Act expressed their outrage.

"Today's ruling failed to hold the Obama Administration responsible for its reckless execution of its own poorly-crafted law," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). "This decision allows the Obama Administration simply to ignore the law and to implement its own preferred policy instead."

"I'm surprised," said House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas). "I believe it is unlawful and unconstitutional for us to have tax provisions where people in different states are dealt with different ways."

[RELATED: Landmark King v. Burwell ruling: Industry reacts, looks to future]

In his dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia took aim at the phrase at the heart of the case: Exchange established by the State. "What are the odds, do you think, that the same slip of the pen occured in seven separate places?" 

Scalia also said that the Court's "next bit of interpretive jiggery-pokery involves other parts of the Act," and that the whole thing is "pure applesauce." Further, Scalia offered that "we should start calling this law SCOTUScare."

On a more serious note, Scalia argued the case never should have come before the Supreme Court.

"Rather than rewriting the law under the pretense of interpreting it, the Court should have left it to Congress to decide what to do about the Act's limitation of tax credits to state exchanges," he wrote.

"The Court's decision reflects the philosophy that judges should endure whatever interpretive distortions it takes in order to correct a supposed flaw in the statutory machinery. That philosophy ignores the American people's decision to give Congress '[a]ll legislative Powers' enumerated in the Constitution. They made Congress, not this Court, responsible for both making laws and mending them."

Republicans are now focusing their efforts to repeal the ACA through budget reconciliation. The budget-reconciliation rule allows the Senate to bypass the need for a 60-vote threshold to complete action on a bill, the National Journal points out. This tactic bars the minority party from blocking the bill.

However, the budget-reconciliation process limits lawmakers' ability to create new policy, which means the strategy can be used only to repeal parts of the statute that directly relate to spending.

Republicans also are looking ahead to 2016. "A Republican nominee for president will have to have a plan to replace the law," said former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, according to the Washington Post.

Elsewhere, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) proclaimed, "I was not a member of the United States Senate during the 111th Congress, but if I had been I would have voted against Obamacare. As your President, one of my first acts would be to repeal the abomination that is Obamacare."

Many health insurers who released statements in wake of the ruling remained neutral. In a statement emailed to FierceHealthPayer, Capital BlueCross reiterated "its commitment to providing affordable access to quality healthcare coverage."

Humana told FierceHealthPayer that as it "works to improve the health of the communities we serve, all of our members--including the hundreds of thousands of Humana members who are enrolled in exchange-based plans--should know that we are committed to helping them achieve their best health."

For more:
- here's the opinion (.pdf)
- here's Hatch's statement
- read the Sessions statement
- check out the National Journal story
- check out Paul's statement

Related Articles:
Supreme Court upholds ACA's federal subsidies 6-3
Landmark King v. Burwell ruling: Industry reacts, looks to future
Beyond King v. Burwell: Payers brace for 'death spiral'