After months since the initial argument, the Supreme Court of the United States has finally ruled on King v. Burwell, which decides the fate of whether federal subsidies can be provided in states that did not create their own health insurance exchange programs from Obamacare.
The high court ruled 6-3 in favor of the Obama administration. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, stating “tax credits are available to individuals in states that have a federal exchange.” Roberts added:
“Congress found that the guaranteed issue and community rating requirements would not work without the coverage requirement. And the coverage requirement would not work without the tax credits.”
In addition to Chief Roberts, the Justices who decided in favor of the administration were Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
The dissent included Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito. The dissent was penned by Scalia, who insisted:
“Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is “established by the State.” It is hard to come up with a clearer way to limit tax credits to state Exchanges than to use the words “established by the State.” And it is hard to come up with a reason to include the words “by the State” other than the purpose of limiting credits to state Exchanges.”
Scalia added, criticizing the complexity and ambiguity of the President's signature health care law:
“The Affordable Care Act spans 900 pages; it would be amazing if its provisions all lined up perfectly with each other.”
While the ruling did not go the way congressional Republicans wanted, they still have a proposed replacement to the monumental health care law. The architects of the legislation claim that it would reduce the federal deficit and free up the health care marketplace.
Editor's note: This article was updated after publication.