President Obama and other Affordable Care Act supporters can breathe a sigh of relief: The Supreme Court has rejected a lawsuit that would have barred millions of Americans from receiving tax credits to help them pay for insurance.
In a 6 to 3 decision, the court ruled that the federal government can dole out subsidies to Obamacare consumers in all states, regardless of whether their state runs its own Obamacare marketplace or relies on the federal government's HealthCare.gov.
Had the court sided with the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell, more than 6 million Americans in 34 states that rely on the federal marketplace would have lost subsidies.
The case hinged on the court's reading of one line in the Affordable Care Act. Section 1311 of the law says the federal government will give subsidies to eligible consumers who buy insurance from an exchange "established by the State." The plaintiffs argued that, consequently, consumers in federally-run marketplaces were ineligible for tax credits. However, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have said it was never their intention to limit the tax credits to state-run marketplaces.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt released the following statement on the decision:
“It's disappointing the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Obama administration's executive rewriting of the Affordable Care Act by ruling on the context of the statute rather than the plain language of the law. The court acknowledged that the challengers' arguments were strong, but focused instead on the outcome of their opinion. There's no doubt the rule of law took a hit today, but I won't be deterred from continuing to fight for the rule of law and our founding principles.”