U.S. Supreme Court upholds tax subsidies under the Affordable Care Act

06/25/2015 11:31 AM

UPDATED WITH REACTION FROM GOV. BESHEAR: In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld tax subsidies within the Affordable Care Act.

The ruling upholds all healthcare marketplaces as they stand.

The underlying question in the case of King v. Burwell was the intent of a phrase dealing with exchanges and whether or not states that did not setup their own exchanges were forbidden from receiving federal government subsidies.

The decision likely would not have affected Kentucky because of Gov. Steve Beshear’s move to create kynect, the state-based exchange running outside of the federal government.

Gov. Steve Beshear said that the SCOTUS ruling stuck with what the “cornerstone of the Affordable Care Act,” intended that healthcare was affordable and accessible to all Americans.

“To conclude that the law’s intent was only to offer subsidies to those who purchased healthcare coverage through their state’s health benefit exchange when many states declined to establish one would have penalized the very individuals the law was designed to help.”

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell has no impact on Kentuckians who qualified for discounts through kynect, as their subsidies were never in question. However, it reaffirms that, from the very start, we did the right thing for the more than 500,000 Kentuckians who have qualified for healthcare coverage through kynect since January 1, 2014,” Beshear concluded.

In a statement sent Thursday morning, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, called the law a “rolling disaster for the American people.”

“Today’s ruling won’t change Obamacare’s multitude of broken promises, including the one that resulted in millions of Americans losing the coverage they had and wanted to keep,” McConnell said. “Today’s ruling won’t change Obamacare’s spectacular flops, from humiliating website debacles to the total collapse of exchanges in states run by the law’s loudest cheerleaders. Today’s ruling won’t change the skyrocketing costs in premiums, deductibles, and co-pays that have hit the middle class so hard over the last few years.”

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, said the decision “turns both the rule of law and common sense on its head.”

“Obamacare raises taxes, harms patients and doctors, and is the wrong fix for America’s health care system,” Paul said. “As President, I would make it my mission to repeal it, and propose real solutions for our healthcare system.”

Kentucky’s lone Democratic federal delegate U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, applauded the decision of the court in a statement sent Thursday.

“Today, the Supreme Court yet again affirmed a fact long known: the Affordable Care Act is lawful and will continue to help American families get the care they need at a cost they can afford,” Yarmuth said. “Repeated attempts to repeal or weaken this important law—legislatively or judicially—have failed. The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, and today’s decision is a victory for all who rightfully believe that access to affordable health care is a right, not a privilege.”

Had the Supreme Court ruled against the subsidies it would have launched an unraveling of the law in Washington, D.C., leaving a Republican Congress to fix the issue, but as the ruling stands so does the status quo politicking on the law.

Read the full 47-page decision from the Supreme Court here.


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