The Supreme Court on June 25 made the right decision to uphold the nationwide tax subsidies underpinning President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, rejecting a major challenge to the landmark law in a ruling that preserves health insurance for millions of Americans.
The decision was a win for the Obama administration, the Affordable Care Act and most importantly for the millions of Americans who depended on the law to receive health insurance.
The justices said in a 6-3 ruling that the subsidies that 8.7 million people currently receive to make insurance affordable do not depend on where they live, as opponents contended.
Chief Justice John Roberts, a known conservative, again voted with his liberal colleagues in support of the health care law. Roberts also was the key vote to uphold it in 2012. Justice Anthony Kennedy, a dissenter in 2012, was part of the majority on Thursday.
“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Roberts declared in the majority opinion.
Roberts said limiting the subsidies only to individuals in states with their own exchanges could well push insurance markets in the other states “into a death spiral.”
In a dissent he summarized from the bench, Justice Antonin Scalia strongly disagreed. “We should start calling this law SCOTUScare,” he said, using an acronym for the Supreme Court and suggesting his colleagues’ ownership by virtue of their twice stepping in to save the law from what he considered worthy challenges.
Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas joined the dissent, as they did in 2012.
Despite the views of conservative critics the health care overhaul is working.
Nationally, 10.2 million people have signed up for health insurance under the Obama health overhaul. That includes the 8.7 million people who are receiving an average subsidy of $272 a month to help pay their insurance premiums.
Of those receiving subsidies, 6.4 million were at risk of losing that aid because they live in states that did not set up their own health insurance exchanges.
The court’s decision ensures that many patients would not drop their coverage since they will continue to receive tax credits to help pay.
Unfortunately the ruling will not mean that Republicans will end their misguided political fight over the law.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican presidential contender, said that for 2016 candidates for Congress or the White House health care will be the “most dominant issue in the country.”
If the senator is correct then voters should consider the following when they vote in 2016:
• The Affordable Care Act ended coverage denials due to pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps on insurance, and allowing the 2.5 million young adults up to age 26 who gained coverage under the law to stay on their parents’ health insurance policies.
• The expanded health care coverage promotes preventive care by allowing patients to see their doctors earlier for treatment rather than wait until they are sicker and care is more expensive.
President Obama’s health care overhaul and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it means that millions of Americans can continue to look forward to receiving the coverage they need to get healthy and stay healthy.
Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune