Buried in today's ruling in favor of Obamacare subsidies is the perfect way to explain the case to people who aren't riveted by health care policy: talk about pizza. Hours after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Obamacare subsidies from federal exchanges were illegal, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decided the exact opposite, using a lunch-time appropriate Domino's and Pizza Hut analogy.
In Judge Gregory's opinion, he argued exactly what the federal government has argued — that the federal exchange is an acceptable substitute for a state-run exchange, the same way a Domino's pizza is a decent substitute for a Pizza Hut pizza. It's "common sense," as Gregory explains:
If I ask for pizza from Pizza Hut for lunch but clarify that I would be fine with a pizza from Domino’s, and I then specify that I want ham and pepperoni on my pizza from Pizza Hut, my friend who returns from Domino’s with a ham and pepperoni pizza has still complied with a literal construction of my lunch order.
In this analogy, state-run exchanges are Pizza Hut and the federal exchange is Domino's. And, just like in real life, we can all agree that in October some pizzas (like California's) were much better than others (the federal exchange).
Gregory goes on to argue that the fact that the bill uses state-run and federal exchange interchangeably doesn't mean anything. "Neither the canons of construction nor any empirical analysis suggests that congressional drafting is a perfectly harmonious, symmetrical, and elegant endeavor," he wrote. In other words, Congress isn't perfect.