The Supreme Court of the United States today announced its decision in King v. Burwell, voting 6 to 3 to uphold a key provision of the Affordable Care Act.
“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. “If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”
Controversy surrounded the phrase “an Exchange established by the State.” Opponents to the ACA argued for a strict interpretation which would prohibit citizens of the 34 states that have yet to set up their own marketplaces from collecting income-based tax subsidies.
Instead, defending President Obama’s healthcare law a second time, the court took the phrase to mean established not just by the state, but by either the federal or state government. Those who sign up for health insurance through the national exchange — an estimated 6.4 million people — will remain eligible for tax subsidies.
Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito comprised the minority vote with Justice Scalia calling the decision “interpretive jiggery-pokery” in his dissent.
Nevertheless, the majority of healthcare professionals welcomed the ruling.
“We are thrilled and gratified by the Court’s ruling, which affirms that the citizens of all 50 states will have the opportunity to access either a state or federal exchange to obtain subsidies to purchase health insurance policies which benefits themselves, their families and loved ones,” said President of the American College of Physicians Dr. Wayne Riley in a statement.
Paula is a freelance science writer and strategic communications associate at Health Leads. Formerly a managing editor at MedTech Boston, she has a B.S. in Journalism from Boston University and has worked with the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, Boston Globe, Social Documentary Network, BU Today and several nonprofit organizations. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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