In a 6-3 decision on a case involving the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in support of the tax subsidies provided under the health reform law.
The nation's high court sided against the plaintiffs in the case, who argued that the ACA's health care tax subsidies were not intended for people purchasing insurance through the federal government's exchange. The challengers pointed to the law's "exchange established by the state" language in claiming that the tax subsidies were meant only for people in the states operating their own insurance marketplaces.
The court disagreed.
"Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them," reads the majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts. In addition to Roberts, Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the more liberal justices in the majority.
The Supreme Court's decision on the King v. Burwell case is not only a win for the Obama administration but also for the 6.4 million Americans, including more than 232,000 in Illinois, whose health insurance subsidies were in jeopardy.
Here's reaction to the Supreme Court's ruling from Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
Today's strong, clear Supreme Court decision confirms what was widely understood during the debate around the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA): health reform provides subsidies for consumers in all states. The decision will let millions of Americans retain their marketplace coverage, allowing health reform's many achievements to stand: historic progress in reducing ranks of the uninsured, important market reforms and protections for consumers, and the ACA's likely contribution to a slower rate of growth for health care costs.
With this case behind us, it is time for opponents of health reform to accept that health reform is here to stay and to stop aggressively pushing proposals to impede it or repeal key elements of it, including the proposals in a pending House appropriations bill to cut off the funds the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services needs to continue carrying out the law, as well as proposals likely to be included in budget reconciliation legislation expected next month.
States also can take important steps to more fully implement the Affordable Care Act. The states that have adopted the law's Medicaid expansion have seen large gains in coverage and generally are saving money in their budgets. Policymakers in the 21 states that have not expanded Medicaid should now do so and enable an estimated 3.7 million uninsured Americans with low incomes to finally gain access to affordable health coverage.
UPDATE 1 (3:34 p.m.): Comments from elected officials, organizations and others are pouring in following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on King v. Burwell. Below is a sampling of the reaction.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL):
Memo to the non-stop critics of the Affordable Care Act: stop trying to kill this program and work to make it stronger. The Supreme Court's decision protects the health insurance of 240,000 Illinoisans and 6.5 million Americans nationwide. America will not return to the days when millions were uninsured and the cost of health care was out of control. The Supreme Court's decision is the right one for America's economic future, and for families and businesses in Illinois and across the country.
U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL,8):
The Supreme Court's decision is a major win for my constituents who will avoid significant increases in health insurance costs. The ACA has been successful in providing health insurance to millions of Americans, and hundreds of thousands in Illinois alone, giving patients more control over their health care coverage.
Members on both sides of the aisle need to come together to continue building on the gains made through the Affordable Care Act, fixing the parts that need improvement and ensuring that all Americans have access to affordable and quality health insurance. Endless litigation in the courts and countless votes to repeal the law is a partisan and wasteful exercise that does not serve the needs of my constituents.
U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL,17):
I have long believed that every American deserves access to quality, affordable health care and have worked with both Democrats and Republicans on commonsense ideas to improve our health care system. Today's Supreme Court ruling upholding health care coverage for millions was the right decision and one that will help hardworking Illinois families stay healthy.
Campaign for Better Health Care:
Today, in the case of King vs Burwell, the U.S. Supreme Court decided 6-3 that the Affordable Care Act's premium tax credits will continue to be available in ALL states - including Illinois! Today's Supreme Court decision upholding the tax credits in the Affordable Care Act is a huge victory for millions of consumers. The ruling confirms what we have known all along - the law was designed to provide a tax credit to any person who qualifies, regardless of the type of Marketplace they use. The Campaign for Better Health Care is an organization that works to build consumer participation in our health system: We are relieved that 232,000 Illinoisans won't have to worry about losing access to necessary medical care. We will continue our work to ensure that this coverage remains affordable and to improve the quality and value of health care coverage for all people in Illinois.
EverThrive Illinois Executive Director Janine Lewis:
Since it was signed into law five years ago, the Affordable Care Act has provided unprecedented access to health insurance and critical health services for Illinois families. Today's Court decision protects access to health coverage for hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans, marking a critical victory for Illinois families.