U.S. Supreme Court upholds Affordable Care Act subsidies 6-3 | Arkansas Blog

U.S. Supreme Court upholds Affordable Care Act subsidies 6-3


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The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a decision affirming the health care subsidies in the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The vote was 6-3, with chief justice writing for the majority.

The plain language that opponents argued prevented subsidies in states that didn't establish their own health insurance exchanges amounted to "inartful" drafting. Scotusblog:

After acknowledging the strength of the plain language arguments from the challengers, the majority says "In this instance, the context and structure of the Act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase."

A big win for the Obama administration and the thousands in Arkansas who've signed up under the federal exchange plan challenged in the lawsuit. A negative opinion could have have implications for the entire Affordable Care Act, along with the Medicaid expansion that has benefited a quarter of a million Arkansans, though the specific case was only about the exchanges, not the Medicaid expansion.

With that settled, Arkansas may turn its attention to the Republican majority's disaffection for bigger government and Gov. Asa Hutchinson's need to keep the money flowing by legislative continuation of the private option Medicaid expansion under Obamacare or something remarkably similar with a more palatable name.

Here's an early rundown from the New York Times.

Vox says this part of John Roberts' 34-page decision gets to the heart.


President Obama said later that the decision signals that his signature achievement is here to stay. The usual suspects, meaning Republican extremists like Mike Huckabee, are howling about judicial "tyranny." Yep, that ol' liberal tyrant John Roberts struck again. Here's a roundup of the predictable caterwauling from the usual suspects (Cotton, etc.).

Gov. Asa Hutchinson joined the general Republican effort to claim the U.S. Supreme Court had stretched for its ruling when the stretch was claiming a poorly written segment reflected the intent of Congress.

“I am surprised at the lengths to which this court will go in an effort to stretch statutory interpretation to uphold the Affordable Care Act. The decision is disappointing. For now, the court’s decision maintains the status quo. In terms of what this means for Arkansas, we will continue our work with the task force to find innovative solutions for Medicaid and healthcare reform. I am convinced now more than ever that we need to proceed with caution to measure the costs to the taxpayers and the reliability of the outcome as we consider the potential of a state exchange.”

What he really means: "Man, I needed that. But I can't admit it."

And then there was Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, with a similarly disingenous statement:

“Today’s ruling is disappointing because the Supreme Court failed to read the plain text of the law and instead ruled to allow the Obama Administration to further implement a preferred policy and rewrite the law instead of what the law actually states – a practice that has become all too common from this Administration. The Court’s decision threatens the foundation upon which this country was built – that only Congress has the power to write and enact laws. As Attorney General, I will continue to fight to defend the rule of law and to protect Arkansans.”

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton cheered the ruling, as did Arkansas Party Chair Vince Insalaco:

As Chair of the Democratic Party of Arkansas I would like to ask every Arkansan to finally agree that while imperfect, the ACA is good for our state. The ACA is here to stay. We should all work together to ensure that the health and well-being of Arkansans is put before politics.

The ACA is good. It is working. Rural hospitals remain open for business. Our economy is stronger. A healthier workforce is a productive workforce. So, let us finally end the debate of whether access to affordable health care is good for Arkansans.

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