Obamacare’s Resounding Win at the Supreme Court

Texans covered through the Affordable Care Act will keep their federal subsidies.

By Rhonda FanningJune 25, 2015 11:36 am

We have another Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare – and it still stands.

Much of the nation has been focused on the Supreme Court. While the Supremes haven’t yet offered their opinion on same-sex marriage, today’s decision in King v. Burwell – the so-called Obamacare case – also has big reverberations in Texas. (Roughly 836,000 people in Texas alone have purchased health care through the Affordable Care Act.)

According to the Supreme Court, the ACA contains more than a few examples of “inartful drafting.” But a 6-3 majority says, despite the way it was written, the text of the law should not be fatal to its intent. Therefore, even if people bought healthcare from vendors other than state-run health care marketplaces, they still should get tax subsidies.

Texas Standard speaks with Samuel Richardson, assistant professor of public affairs at the LBJ School at The University of Texas at Austin.

What was surprising about the ruling?

I was surprised that it was 6-3. … Most people thought it was gonna go 5-4 one way or the other, and people who knew what they were talking about said that it could go either way. So the fact that it was 6-3 sends a bit of a message, that the court was very much on the administration’s side.”

The case focused on a six-word phrase: ‘an exchange established by the state.’

“So that text, if read literally, says that if a state lets the federal government establish the exchange, then the subsidies should not be paid. What the Court said is that that wording is ambiguous, and has to be read in the context of the rest of the law, and the intent of the drafters of the law.”

Why a ‘win’ for Obamacare supporters means keeping the status quo:

“People who were getting subsidies for their health insurance yesterday are going to still be getting subsidies for their health insurance today.”

Listen to the whole interview in the audio player above.