January 19, 2021

Volume XI, Number 19

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January 18, 2021

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Obamacare Survives in 6-3 Vote - Supreme Court Issues Opinion on King v. Burwell

This morning, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its final decision on King v. Burwell regarding the survival of Obamacare. The decision, issued by Chief Justice Roberts and joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, effectively allows millions of people to to keep the tax subsidies provided so they can afford health insurance.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) explicitly states that the tax subsidies were provided for individals to purchase insurance through state-based changes. The Court was charged with determining whether they could be used to purchase insurance through the federally run Healthcare.gov marketplace as well. The creators of the law contend that the law's intent is to make affordable care available to people across the country through both channels by providing a federal exchange where states did not establish one.

The Court agreed -federal government can subsidize health insurance premiums for residents of states that did not establish a state health insurance exchange. In the Court's opinion, Chief Justice Roberts wrote "The combination of no tax credits and an ineffective coverage requirement could well push a State's individual insurance market into a death spiral... It is implausible that Congress meant the Act to operate in this manner."

Chief Justice Roberts reinforces the role of the Court - as an interpreter of the law, not its creator:

[I]n every case we must respect the role of the Legislature, and take care not to undo what it has done. A fair reading of legislation demands a fair understanding of the legislative plan. Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter. (emphasis added)

This is a developing story. Please stay tuned for more updates and legal commentary.

SCOTUS Upholds Exchange Subsidies – King v. Burwell

Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act Insurance Subsidies

King v. Burwell Decision Upholds Subsidies in Federal Exchanges

Supreme Court Upholds Availability Of Subsidies On Federal Exchange—Where Do We Go From Here?

King v. Burwell Decision

What Supreme Court’s Decision on Affordable Care Act Subsidies Means for Employers

Affordable Care Act Survives Challenge: Tax Credits Available For Federal Exchanges

Supreme Court Cites Phrasing to Uphold ACA

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