In a groundbreaking decision from the United States Supreme Court, a 6-3 majority ruled that healthcare subsidies could be given to those who enrolled in Obamacare through the federal exchange.
A lawsuit brought against the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) made the claim that the legislation only provided for subsidies to those who enrolled in exchanges established by individual states, and that those who enrolled through the federal government’s national exchange were not eligible. The court found, however, that the law did allow for subsidies to be given to those enrolled in the federal marketplace “exchange”.
The Supreme Court ruled in KING ET AL. v. BURWELL:
In a democracy, the power to make the law rests with those chosen by the people. Our role is more confined—“to say what the law is.” Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 177 (1803). That is easier in some cases than in others. But in every case we must respect the role of the Legislature, and take care not to undo what it has done. A fair reading of legislation demands a fair understanding of the legislative plan.
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. Section 36B can fairly be read consistent with what we see as Congress’s plan, and that is the reading we adopt.
The judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is Affirmed.
The majority decision was written by Chief Justice Roberts, and joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.
A super salty dissent was written by Justice Scalia, and joined by Justices Alito and Thomas:
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”?
And, toward the end of his opinion:
The Act that Congress passed makes tax credits available only on an “Exchange established by the State.” This Court, however, concludes that this limitation would prevent the rest of the Act from working as well as hoped. So it rewrites the law to make tax credits available everywhere. We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.
This is the second time that the Affordable Care Act has been fundamentally challenged at the Supreme Court, and the second time that the court has ruled in its favor.