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Published On: Fri, Jun 26th, 2015

Supreme Court rules to allow Obamacare’s federal subsidies

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that President Obama’s health care law allows the federal government to provide nationwide tax subsidies to help lower income people buy health insurance, validating supporter’s claim for the larger purpose of Obama’s signature legislation.

The 6-to-3 ruling all but ensures that the Affordable Care Act will survive after Obama leaves office in 2017. For the second time in three years, the law survived review with the Supreme Court.

“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.

In dissent on Thursday, Justice Antonin Scalia called the majority’s reasoning “quite absurd” and “interpretive jiggery-pokery.”

He announced his dissent from the bench, described in some reports as bitter disagreement as his summary was laced with sarcasm, sometimes drawing amused murmurs in the courtroom as he described the “interpretive somersaults” he said the majority had performed to reach the decision.

“We really should start calling this law Scotus-care,” Justice Scalia said, to laughter from the audience.

President Obama 2014 photo/ Mike Brice via pixabay.com

President Obama 2014 photo/ Mike Brice via pixabay.com

In a hastily arranged appearance in the Rose Garden on Thursday morning, Obama praised the ruling. “After multiple challenges to this law before the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay,” he said, adding: “What we’re not going to do is unravel what has now been woven into the fabric of America.”

“The problem with Obamacare is still fundamentally the same: The law is broken,” House Speaker John Boehner said. “It’s raising costs for American families, it’s raising costs for small businesses and it’s just fundamentally broken. And we’re going to continue our efforts to do everything we can to put the American people back in charge of their health care and not the federal government.”

The case concerned a central part of the Affordable Care Act that created marketplaces, known as exchanges, to allow people who lack insurance to shop for individual health plans.

Some states set up their own exchanges, but about three dozen allowed the federal government to step in to run them. Across the nation, about 85 percent of customers using the exchanges qualify for subsidies to help pay for coverage, based on their income.

The question in the case, King v. Burwell, No. 14-114, was what to make of a phrase in the law that seems to say the subsidies are available only to people buying insurance on “an exchange established by the state.”

Chief Justice Roberts acknowledged that the plaintiffs had strong arguments about the plain meaning of the contested words. But he wrote that the words must be understood as part of a larger statutory plan. “In this instance,” he wrote, “the context and structure of the act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.”

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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