The U.S. Supreme Court sided today with the Obama administration over its major healthcare overhaul, upholding federal subsidies across the country. In a 6-3 ruling, the nation’s highest court ruled that critics’ reading of Obamacare might make sense in isolation, but not when viewed in a larger context and in light of the intention of the law.
“After multiple challenges to this law before the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay,” President Obama said. It’s the second time the Supreme Court — and its conservative chief justice, John Roberts — has backed controversial portions of Obamacare. The first ruling was in 2012.
Justice Antonin Scalia wrote an angry dissent, saying the Supreme Court’s pair of decisions over Obamacare will “surely be remembered through the years” as evidence the court does “whatever [it] takes to uphold and assist its favorites.”
Obamacare gave states the option to build their own healthcare marketplaces or simply use one operated by the federal government. In all, 34 states decided to rely on the federal “exchange.” And more than 6 million low to moderate income Americans are now receiving subsidies of on average $260 a month through the federal exchange.
But in a lawsuit challenging the law, critics insisted the federal government is not allowed to subsidize insurance in states that rejected their own exchange for the federal system. Those critics based their argument on a single phrase in Obamacare that refers only to participants enrolled “through an Exchange established by the State.”
The White House has maintained, though, that in drafting and passing Obamacare, Congress clearly intended to offer insurance subsidies to those participating in both the federal and state exchanges.
As always, ADVOCATE will keep you up to date on this and all issues impacting radiology as they become available.
Kirk Reinitz, CPA