Supreme Court upholds subsidies

Obamacare has been saved yet again by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 Thursday that the subsidies under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will stay.

The ruling upholds a major tenet of the health care law enabling millions of Americans to keep the tax subsidies that help them buy and afford health coverage under the law.

Obamacare has been saved yet again by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 Thursday that the subsidies under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will stay.

The ruling upholds a major tenet of the health care law enabling millions of Americans to keep the tax subsidies that help them buy and afford health coverage under the law.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the court’s majority opinion and was joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Should the Court have struck down the subsidies, it would have had disastrous effects for the health care market and the health reform law. An estimated 6.4 million Americans receive the subsidies in the 34 states that don’t have their own exchanges. Reports had suggested millions would lose coverage and millions more would suffer from exploding premiums had the government lost in King v. Burwell.

The case ultimately hinged on just four words — “established by the state” — as it called into question the legality of federal exchanges. While PPACA challengers said that phrase limits the tax credits to the 16 states that have set up their own exchanges, the Obama administration repeatedly defended an IRS rule that interpreted the law as allowing subsidies nationwide.

The Obama administration also did not have a backup plan had the subsidies been gutted.

Ultimately, this was the decision most had hoped for: Poll after poll had found that the public backed the subsidies and wanted the court to uphold all the law’s subsidies, regardless of if they supported PPACA in general.

Praise for the decision came in fast this morning.

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court assures those consumers that the promise of affordable health coverage will still be there for them,” Anne Filipic, president of Enroll America, said in a statement. “Right now, our priority is to make sure consumers know what this ruling means: that nothing has changed about their financial help. And this is a critical opportunity to inform those who have not yet enrolled that financial help is available, and here to stay. Opponents have repeatedly attempted to derail this law, but in spite of that opposition, it is working and millions of Americans are benefiting.”

Despite the administration’s victory, analysts do not see this being the end of controversy for PPACA.

“Affordable Care Act implementation returns to normal following today’s ruling but debate over the law is likely far from over,” said Elizabeth Carpenter, director at consulting firm Avalere Health. “Congress may still pursue strategies to alter the Affordable Care Act, and the debate over reform is likely to reignite as part of the 2016 presidential race.

“Congress is still likely to consider repeal of the medical device tax and the Independent Payment Advisory Board, as well as changes to the employer mandate and the Cadillac Tax.”

One comment on “Supreme Court upholds subsidies

  1. Elise Reply

    Who sits on the Insurance Exchange Board? The current bills exdulce individuals employed by health insurers and healthcare providers from participation on the governing board. While this approach will help to avoid conflicts of interest, it will rob the Board of needed expertise, a problem Craig Hasday addressed in a recent post.

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