Health care reform ruling a huge victory for ObamaReprints
In a huge victory for the Obama administration, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld 2012 IRS rules authorizing federal premium subsidies for the millions of low-income uninsured individuals obtaining coverage in the federal health insurance exchange.
Those rules had been challenged by plaintiffs who alleged that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act permitted the subsidies only in the states that set up exchanges, and not the federal exchange, which was established to provide coverage in the nearly three dozen states that did not establish their own exchanges.
But in a 6-3 decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the nation's high court said Thursday that “it is implausible that Congress meant the act to operate in this manner.”
Allowing premium tax credits for health insurance purchased through the federal exchange are necessary for the exchange to “function like their state exchange counterparts, and to avoid the type of calamitous result that Congress plainly meant to avoid,” Justice Roberts wrote for the majority.
“Congress made the guaranteed issue and community rating requirements applicable in every state in the nation, but those requirements only work when combined with the coverage requirement and tax credits. It thus stands to reason that Congress meant for those provisions to apply in every state as well,” Justice Roberts wrote.
But Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the dissent, disagreed.
“Under all the usual rules of interpretation, in short, the government should lose this case. But normal rules of interpretation seem always to yield to the overriding principle of the present court: The Affordable Care Act must be saved.”
The ruling assures the continuation of federal premium subsidies to the 6.4 million individuals obtaining coverage in the federal exchange.