Health care law survives Supreme Court challenge

On June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling on the controversial King v. Burwell case.

The main issue in the case was whether federal subsidies could be offered to people who purchased health insurance through the federal health insurance marketplace rather than through a state-run exchange. Under a literal reading of the law, subsidies are allowed through exchanges “established by the state.” It was argued that the wording of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) prohibits subsidies from being granted in states that did not set up their own insurance exchange, but instead defaulted to the federal health insurance marketplace. More than half of the states use the federal exchange.

Had the Court’s decision gone the other way, an estimated six million people would have lost the subsidies that help them pay for their health insurance. However, the Supreme Court decided by a 6-3 margin that this distinction between state and federal exchanges was not the intent of Congress and ruled to preserve the right for subsidies to be offered in all states. The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice Roberts.

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