The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Obamacare subsidies can go to enrollees in every state in a big victory for the Obama administration and a blow to Republicans hoping to repeal parts of the law.
In a 6-3 vote, the justices said all residents are eligible to receive federal subsidies to purchase insurance, even if they live in one of the 34 states that has not set up its own insurance exchange, reported The New York Times.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, which was opposed by Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito — the Court’s most conservative members.
The administration’s challengers made the case that the government can’t subsidize plans purchased on the federal exchange, because the law says that only people who buy Obamacare “though an Exchange established by the state,” are eligible for subsidies.
If the Supreme Court had ruled against the administration, the 7 million enrollees currently subsidized by the Internal Revenue Service could have been faced with plans they can’t afford. That would have crippled the entire healthcare law and given Republicans an opportunity to roll back the law and present their own ideas.
But the administration argued the greater context of the law makes it clear Congress did not intend to limit the subsidies only to states who set up their own exchange, and argued a ruling against them would place an overdue burden on the states without an exchange and on the larger healthcare system. (RELATED: How Justice Kennedy Might Justify Saving Obamacare)
Republicans released statements Thursday urging Congress to move past the ruling and keep fighting the law, saying the ruling does not change the fact that it’s a bad law.
“The politicians who forced Obamacare on the American people now have a choice,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. “[They can] crow about Obamacare’s latest wobble towards the edge, or work with us to address the ongoing negative impact of a 2,000-page law that continues to make life miserable for too many of the same people it purported to help.”
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