Obamacare subsidies get Supreme Court’s nod

Over 16 million people have gained coverage under the Act, says the President.

Updated - November 16, 2021 11:41 pm IST

Published - June 26, 2015 03:14 am IST - Washington:

Obama on Thursday welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the nationwide availability of tax subsidies that are crucial to the implementation of the President’s signature healthcare law.

Obama on Thursday welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the nationwide availability of tax subsidies that are crucial to the implementation of the President’s signature healthcare law.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday sealed President Barack Obama’s legacy for achieving the farthest-reaching healthcare reform in the country’s history when it ruled that federal subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could be made available to individuals in States, even if those States did not set up their own insurance “exchanges.”

The decision was based on a 6-3 opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, and joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy and liberal justices on the Bench.

The challenge facing the Court in the case of King v. Burwell was to determine whether it was legal for 6.4 million people in the 37 States using the federal marketplace to receive health-insurance subsidies even though those States did not create insurance marketplaces for such individuals to purchase their policies.

‘Affordable Care Act is here to stay’

President Barack Obama on Thursday welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the nationwide availability of tax subsidies that are crucial to the implementation of the President’s signature healthcare law.

“Five years ago...we finally declared that in America, health care is not a privilege for a few, but a right for all. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay... This is reality. This law is working,” President Obama spoke from the Rose Garden of the White House.

He added that as the law’s provisions gradually took effect since 2010, more than 16 million Americans have gained coverage.

If the partisan challenge to this law had succeeded, millions of Americans would have lost tax credits and financial assistance.

“Insurance would have become unaffordable again, millions would have become uninsured again, everyone’s premiums would have gone up. That’s not what we do, that’s not what America does. We go forward,” he said.

The President added that nearly one in three Americans who was uninsured a few years ago is insured today. “That’s something we can all be proud of.”

The Affordable Care Act’s authors said the words cited by the plaintiffs were likely to be a “drafting error,” and that Obamacare was meant to help people buy insurance regardless of whether they were using a State exchange or the federal site.

Yet, in writing the opinion of the court, Justice Roberts, who exercised the swing vote in the June 2012 decision upholding the ACA, said, “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”

Referencing legal implications of the Congress’s 2010 passage of the landmark law, the majority opinion of the court read, “Congress made the guaranteed issue and community rating requirements application in every State in the Nation.

But those requirements only work when combined with the coverage requirement and the tax credits. So it stands to reason that Congress meant for those provisions to apply in every State as well.”

Yet not all quarters welcomed the decision warmly, with Jeb Bush, former Florida Governor and Republican presidential hopeful for 2016 saying that he was disappointed by the ruling but that it was not the end of the fight against Obamacare.

“This fatally flawed law imposes job-killing mandates, causes spending in Washington to skyrocket by $1.7 trillion, raises taxes by $1 trillion and drives up healthcare costs. Instead of fixing our healthcare system, it made the problems worse,” he added.

Correction

>>The third paragraph of “Obamacare subsidies get Supreme Court’s nod” (June 26, 2015) read: “The challenge facing the Court in the case of King v. Burwell was to determine whether it was legal for 6.4 “million people in the 34 States using the federal marketplace to receive health insurance." Actually, 37 States are using the federal marketplace to receive health insurance.

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