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Supreme Court upholds key component of Obamacare

The Tuskegee News of Tuskegee, Alabama

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The Supreme Court handed a surprising victory to the Obama administration and civil rights groups on Thursday, June 25 when it upheld a key tool used for more than four decades to fight housing discrimination.

Implementation of the law will continue as planned. IPeople who received subsidies on health insurance they applied for through the federal exchange will be allowed to keep them.

As reported on SCOTUS blog, the majority acknowledged the strength of the plain language arguments from the challengers. But Chief Justice John Roberts referred to the 1988 case United Sav. Assn. of Tex. v. Timbers of In wood Forest Associates, Ltd., stating a provision that may be ambiguous in isolation is clarified by the remainder of the statute because only one of the meanings is compatible with the rest of the law. "Here, the statutory scheme compels us to reject petitioners' interpretation because it would destabilize the individual insurance market in any state with a federal exchange and likely create the very 'death spirals' that Congress designed the Act to avoid," Roberts wrote in the majority opinion.

Joining him in the majority were justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Anthony Kennedy and Sonia Sotomayor.

President Barack Obama spoke following the court's decision. He said if the "partisan challenge" had succeeded in overturning the law, millions would have had thousands of dollars in tax credits taken away, and insurance would have been unaffordable for them. "There have been successes and setbacks. The setbacks I remember clearly," he said of the ACA rollout. "But as the dust has settled, there can be no doubt that this law is working. It has changed and in some cases saved American fives. It has set this country on a smarter, stronger course. And today after more than 50 votes in Congress to repeal or weaken this law, after a presidential election based, in part, on preserving or appealing this law, after multiple challenges to the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay."

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the court's dissent; the other opposition votes came from justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

Scalia wrote the finding that the ACA's "established by the state" language on subsidies meant "established by the state or the federal government." was absurd.'

The plaintiffs in King v. Burwell based their challenge on a literal reading of the law, citing the one sentence that said subsidies could only be granted to qualified individuals though state exchanges.

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Original Publication Date: July 2, 2015

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