The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) survived a big challenge when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of what is popularly called Obamacare. In King v. Burwell, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, joined by five Justices. The Court held that states that use the federal website to recruit customers for the ACA are still eligible for federal subsidies.
Opponents of the ACA urged that the Court should follow “the letter of the law” as to the phrase “established by the state” as used in the Act. Two-thirds of the states, including Arizona, elected not to develop their own health care websites, requiring their citizens to use the healthcare.gov site instead. The question for the Court was whether Americans who used the federal website would be deprived of the subsidies, something that would have probably gutted the program.
C.J. Roberts wrote that “It is implausible that Congress meant the Act to operate [to eliminate subsidies to federal website customers]. Congress made the guaranteed issue and community rating requirements applicable 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." He also wrote, “Congress passed the [ACA] to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.”
Justice Scalia, joined by two other Justices, strongly dissented, suggesting that the law should be called “SCOTUS-care.” His point was that the Court has twice saved the ACA from challenges in the Court.
The King decision means that millions of Americans will be allowed to keep their subsidized healthcare insurance. In Arizona, 150,000 people will benefit from the decision. Obamacare will always be subject to adjustments as the need for tweaks may appear in the future. But legal analysts believe that Obamacare will not face any further serious legal challenges.
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