Obamacare Gets Big Boost With SCOTUS Win


Washington for News Talk Florida –  The Supreme Court has upheld a key provision of ObamaCare, affirming that 6.4 million people can continue to receive subsidies that allow them to purchase healthcare plans.

For the second time Chief Justice John Roberts delivered a huge victory for President Obama, as it ensures that consumers purchasing health insurance on exchanges set up in 34 states will continue to be able to do so.

With Chief Justice Roberts writing the decision which came down to a  6-3 vote in King v. Burwell the high court preserves the structure of the Affordable Care Act and delivers a second major blow to Republican-backed attempts to undermine the president’s domestic policy legacy.

The high court ruled that the health care law as written does allow residents of states using the federal insurance exchange to receive premium subsidies for their coverage – an outcome that saves subsidies for 6.4 million people. The challengers had argued that a four-word phrase in the law only allowed financial assistance in states running their own insurance exchanges.

In his decision, Roberts argued that a ruling killing off the subsidies would set the state markets into a death spiral, and that this could not have been the intent of Congress.

“The combination of no tax credits and an ineffective coverage requirement could well push a State’s individual insurance market into a death spiral. It is implausible that Congress meant the Act to operate in this manner,” he wrote.

“The argument that the phrase ‘established by the State’ would be superfluous if Congress meant to extend tax credits to both State and Federal Exchanges is unpersuasive.

In a dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia lambasted the Obama administration for what he called the “somersaults of statutory interpretation” in the healthcare law.

“We should start calling this law SCOTUScare,” wrote Scalia, in an unsubtle reference to an earlier decision written by Roberts that declared constitutional the law’s mandate that people buy insurance.

He was joined by the two other very conservative members of the court Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas joined Scalia’s dissent.

The court’s four liberal justices joined the Roberts opinion, as did Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is often a swing vote on the court.

The court says those payments were lawful, although challengers in the lawsuit argued the text of 2010 law limited to exchanges “established by the state.”

The Obama administration had insisted that every state is eligible for the subsidies, since the Health and Human Services Department stands in for states that refused to set up their own markets.

Recent polling found a majority of Americans though the justices should uphold the subsidies, although many didn’t think the justices would be able to rule objectively.

Meanwhile, the ruling leaves the ACA, which Republicans have repeatedly sought to undermine since its passage five years ago, on more firm footing than ever before.  “It’s an affirmation of the ACA,” said Trish Riley, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy. “People who have had a wait-and-see attitude will have to say it’s time to move on.”

The decision also “secures the legitimacy” of health-care marketplaces run by the federal government, said Allison Hoffman, a professor of health care law and policy at the University of California, Los Angeles. In the months leading up to the decision, some states had begun to move away from such set-ups: Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Arkansas had all asked for and received approval to take over the exchanges that the federal government had been running for them. But now, said Hoffman, some states will take the opposite approach, and abandon their own exchanges for a federally run option.

In large part this is due to the difficulties states have had running their exchanges. A Washington Post investigation published in May found that more than half of the state-run marketplaces have faced financial challenges stemming from unreliable technology, costly customer service call centers and other issues. Many state exchanges had been relying on financial support from the federal government to stay afloat. But that support ends next year. After today’s decision, states are likely to see the federally run exchange as both a financially efficient, and politically secure, option.

*Some quotes in this story were provided by Associated Press and United Press International

Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.