In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal health law may provide subsidies to help Americans buy insurance on the state exchanges, officially putting a stop to one of the slowest-moving and arguably most mind-numbingly boring — if important — news stories in recent history (with all due apologies to tax credit enthusiasts and the American Academy of Actuaries).
More importantly, the ruling means that 30 million Americans will continue to be eligible for health insurance through the exchanges. Practically speaking, the decision eliminates the last major challenge to the Affordable Care Act.
Health stocks rose on the news, as the uncertainty that has been shadowing hospital and health plan stocks for months was eliminated.
The dissenting opinion in King, authored by Justice Scalia, is already being called an “instant classic*,” is replete with memorable zingers such as:
“Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is “established by the State” and “..It is bad enough for a court to cross out “by the State” once. But seven times?
Dissenting opinions in important cases, of course, are almost always hailed as “instant classics” by supporters, just as they are thrashed as “incoherent judge-babble” by critics.
So to be taken with a grain of salt. Or not.
The line that is likely to be remembered, and quoted most widely by opponents of the Affordable Care Act, however, is this one:
“The Act that Congress passed makes tax credits available only on an ‘Exchange established by the State.’ This Court, however, concludes that this limitation would prevent the rest of the Act from working as well as hoped. So it rewrites the law to make tax credits available everywhere. We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.”