In a 6-3 decision released Thursday morning, the United States Supreme Court ruled that tax subsidies issued to those that used HealthCare.gov to enroll in the Affordable Care Act because their state did not setup an exchange were legal based on the intent of the law.
The decision in King v. Burwell hinged on whether or not the IRS action of issuing tax credits to those that signed up for the ACA on the national exchange was legal based on the wording of the law that opponents argued limited the credits to those that enrolled via state exchanges.
SCOTUS 42-page Opinion
The majority opinion, written by Chief Justice Roberts, says the key phrase established by the State is ambiguous but that the intent of the law passed by Congress was to “improve health markets, not destroy them” and SCOTUS should , when possible, “interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with what we see as Congress’s plan.”
Justice Scalia wrote a blistering dissent that accused the court of favoring some laws over others, and that SCOTUS will do “whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites” by making decisions based on the intent of the law rather than the words of the law. He also stated that “We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.”
The decision is a win for President Barack Obama and those that support the ACA and makes it clear that the Roberts court will not take actions that could lead to a “death-spiral” of the insurance markets.
Another thing made clear by the ruling is that if Republicans were counting on getting help from the highest court in the land in dismantling the ACA, they were mistaken.
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