The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday by a 6-3 vote that more than 6 million Americans, including 1.3 million Floridians, can continue to receive subsidies under the Affordable Care Act to buy health insurance through the federally run exchange at HealthCare.gov.Looks like SCOTUS just saved the GOP from a massive amount of butt-hurt. Repealing the subsidies would have been a public relations nightmare.
Ruling in the case of King v. Burwell, the Supreme Court upheld the Obama administration’s interpretation of the health law that allows billions of dollars in health insurance subsidies — including an estimated $389 million a month for Florida residents — to be distributed in the 34 states where the federal government operates the insurance exchange because the state decided against it.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged that the challengers' "arguments about the plain meaning . . . are strong."
But, he noted: "Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them."
From the majority opinion: "In this instance, 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."
The plaintiffs in King v. Burwell had challenged the government’s authority to provide those subsidies to individuals who buy health insurance on the federal exchange. They argued that a literal interpretation of the health law meant subsidies could only be given to consumers who bought plans on an insurance exchange established by a state.
Florida is one of 34 states that has not established an insurance exchange under the health law and instead relies on the federally-run marketplace at HealthCare.gov.
A few months ago, Ben Sasse, the junior Republican Senator from Nebraska, focused on the horrible actual and political consequences for his party should Republicans resist acting to restore the subsidies. Sasse pointed to “Chemotherapy turned off for perhaps 12,000 people, dialysis going dark for 10,000. The horror stories will be real.”Lastly, let me state the obvious. The reason that we are now 5 years out from the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and still have no counter proposal from the Republican Party is that Obamacare is their plan. It always has been. It's not a big government takeover of the health insurance industry. I wish it was. Instead it's the last best chance for the private health care market to survive. Instead of attacking it any further, they should be championing it and hoping that it survives. The only viable alternative is single payer.