Why Congressional Budget Office Reports are the Best Evidence of Congressional Intent about Health Subsidies

Theda Skocpol, Harvard University

The Supreme Court will soon hear arguments that the Affordable Care Act of 2010 planned to deny tax subsidies to people in states that use federally supported rather than state-run exchanges. But Theda Skocpol chronicled analyses from the Congressional Budget Office and found that both parties assumed the subsidies would be available nationwide through all sorts of exchanges.

In her new brief, Skocpol lays out her empirical findings and explains why the mandate and day-to-day operations of the Congressional Budget Office ensure that it reflects and responds to the policy ideas of all factions in Congress. Her brief is accompanied by a figure and chronology showing all Congressional Budget Office reports on health reform issues sent to Democrats and Republicans in Congress during 2009 and 2010. Health reporter Sarah Kliff at Vox recently interviewed Skocpol about this research, and the analysis was discussed by Dylan Scott at Talking Points Memo and by Kevin Drum at Mother Jones.

January 2015