The Supreme Court has agreed to consider a new challenge to President Obama’s health care law.
The decision to hear the case without waiting for a split among federal appeals courts is considered a victory for opponents of the law, often dubbed Obamacare, who lost a unanimous verdict at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, USA Today reported.
The Supreme Court will rule on whether low- and middle-income Americans can receive subsidies in two-thirds of the states to make the cost of insurance more affordable. About 5 million Americans have subsidized insurance bought through the healthcare exchange, which is run by the government, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Obama administration spokesman John Earnest defends the credits.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– John Earnest” author_title=”Obama administration spokesman”]
This is a law that is working and has generated significant benefits for working families and small business owners all across the country, and that’s why you’re going to see a vigorous defense.
The conservative group that brought the case says the arrangement is illegal, saying that the Affordable Care Act as it is written allows the government to only subsidize health insurance in states that have set up their own insurance exchanges.
36 states have not set up an exchange and rely on the federal government’s marketplace instead. If the challenge is successful, residents of these states will not be able to get subsidies unless their states change their position. This will mean millions of Americans will no longer receive subsidies, potentially dooming the healthcare law.
The law’s language says that subsidies may be paid “through an exchange established by the state.” The federal appeals court based in Virginia agreed with the Obama administration’s position, saying the law was designed to provide nationwide subsidies.
Two years ago, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act as constitutional with a 5-4 vote with Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr. breaking away from conservatives and casting the deciding vote to preserve the law.
The Supreme Court typically only steps in when federal appeals courts disagree. It takes just four votes to add a case to the Supreme Court’s docket, the New York Times reported. This appeal was filed by four Virginia residents to want to block the subsidies.