The Supreme Court dealt the Obama administration another victory Thursday in its fight to keep Obamacare the law of the land, siding with the administration on the issue of subsidies.
The court decided by a 6-3 vote that consumers qualify for subsidies whether they purchase care through the state or federal exchange — in defiance of the law’s exact language.
George W. Bush appointee Chief Justice John Roberts once again sided with the White House and wrote the opinion, according to NBC News.
In a blistering dissent, using the acronym for Supreme Court of the United States, Justice Anthony Scalia wrote that Americans should start referring to the law as “SCOTUS Care,” NBC News reported.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a challenge to the reach of the Obama health care law, rescuing the program from a potentially fatal legal challenge for the second time since Obamacare’s inception.
By a 6-3 vote, the justices said consumers qualify for a subsidy that lowers the cost of premiums whether they buy their coverage through federal or state exchanges. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion.
Justice Antonin Scalia said people should start calling the law “SCOTUS care”.
More than six million lower-income Americans who get their health insurance through the federal marketplace or exchange — HealthCare.Gov — depend on the subsidies, reducing their premiums an average of 72 percent, saving an average of $270 a month.
Opponents of the law claimed that the actual wording of the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress made subsidies available only to insurance customers who bought their policies through “an exchange established by the state” where the policyholders live.
If the challengers had prevailed, customers who bought their insurance on the federal exchange — by far the majority of those insured by Obamacare — would have lost the subsidies. Only 16 states now have their own health exchanges up and running.
The health insurance industry had warned that if the challenge succeeded, the Affordable Care Act would have entered a “death spiral” — with costs rising for a shrinking number of participants, eventually causing the system to collapse.
Scalia’s dissent read in part:
“The Court’s decision reflects the philosophy that judges should endure whatever interpretive distortions it takes in order to correct a supposed flaw in the statutory machinery. That philosophy ignores the American people’s decision to give Congress ‘[a]ll legislative Powers’ enumerated in the Constitution. Art. I, §1. They made Congress, not this Court, responsible for both making laws and mending them. This Court holds only the judicial power — the power to pronounce the law as Congress has enacted it. We lack the prerogative to repair laws that do not work out in practice, just as the people lack the ability to throw us out of office if they dislike the solutions we concoct. We must always remember, therefore, that ‘[o]ur task is to apply the text, not to improve upon it.’ Pavelic & LeFlore v. Marvel Entertainment Group, Div. of Cadence Industries Corp., 493 U. S. 120, 126 (1989).
“Trying to make its judge-empowering approach seem respectful of congressional authority, the Court asserts that its decision merely ensures that the Affordable Care Act operates the way Congress ‘meant [it] to operate.’ Ante, at 17. First of all, what makes the Court so sure that Congress ‘meant’ tax credits to be available everywhere? Our only evidence of what Congress meant comes from the terms of the law, and those terms show beyond all question that tax credits are available only on state Exchanges. More importantly, the Court forgets that ours is a government of laws and not of men. That means we are governed by the terms of our laws, not by the unenacted will of our lawmakers. ‘If Congress enacted into law something different from what it intended, then it should amend the statute to conform to its intent.’ Lamie, supra, at 542. In the meantime, this Court ‘has no roving license . . . to disregard clear language simply on the view that . . . Congress “must have intended” something broader.’ Bay Mills, 572 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 11).”
The reaction of the Twitterverse was quick and fierce.
Zinger from Scalia dissent in King v. Burwell: “We should start calling this SCOTUScare.” pic.twitter.com/zOgupNedWA
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) June 25, 2015
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) June 25, 2015
— Mrs. Rutter ™ (@lindarutter) June 25, 2015
— Jenny Beth Martin (@jennybethm) June 25, 2015
— First In Last Out (@4gen234) June 25, 2015
@foxandfriends After being once again threatened (manipulated) by the president just like right before the last decision, I am not surprised
— Larry L Williams (@_LarryWilliams_) June 25, 2015
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