Thursday, June 25, 2015

Supreme Court Rules ACA Subsidies Are Legal


The Affordable Care Act survived its second Supreme Court test in three years, raising odds for its survival but by no means ending the legal and political assaults on it five years after it became law.

The 6-3 ruling stopped a challenge that would have erased subsidies in at least 34 states for individuals and families buying insurance through the federal government’s online marketplace. Such a result would have made coverage unaffordable for millions and created price spirals for those who kept their policies, many experts predicted.
People celebrate in front of the US Supreme Court after ruling was announced on the Affordable Care Act, June 25, 2015 in Washington. The high court ruled that the Affordable Care Act may provide nationwide tax subsidies to help poor and middle-class people buy health insurance. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for the court, joined by frequent swing vote Anthony Kennedy and the liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

The case hinged on tax credits created by Congress to help middle-income consumers buy insurance through online marketplaces, also known as exchanges.
The subsidies are available through an exchange “established by the state,” according to the law.

Thirty-four states did not set up their own exchanges and rely instead on healthcare.gov, run by the federal government. Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that, as a result, millions of consumers in those states should not receive tax credits to pay premiums.

Justice Antonin Scalia agreed. Writing the dissenting opinion, he asserted: “Today’s interpretation is not merely unnatural; it is unheard of. Who would ever have dreamt that ‘Exchange established by the State’ means ‘Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government’?”

Pulling the subsidies would have undermined the insurance market in those states to the point of likely failure, experts said. Unable to afford the coverage, many consumers would have dropped out. Those remaining would probably have been older and sicker, driving up premiums to unsustainable levels.

Read the entire article at http://khn.org/news/high-court-upholds-health-law-subsidies/

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