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U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Obamacare Subsidies

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KUT News
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The Supreme Court's decision in the King v Burwell case means that one million Texans who purchased health insurance through the federal marketplace will get to keep their subsidies.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled to uphold the health insurance tax subsides in the case of King v. Burwell.

After much anticipation, the High Court ruled 6-3 this morning that people who received tax subsidies for health insurance premiums purchased on the federal exchange can keep them.

At issue in the case was whether four words in a section of the Affordable Care Act that deals with tax subsidies — "established by the state" — meant that only people who bought an Obamacare plan on a marketplace established by a state government can get a tax subsidy to help them pay for it. 

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, which states that, "Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them."

Since Texas elected not to set up its own statewide marketplace, those who wanted to buy healthcare plans through an Affordable Care Act marketplace had to do so through the federal marketplace. Today's decision [read the opinion here] says that the federal subsidies are constitutional.

In a statement, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton expressed his disappointment with the decision. 

"This is unfortunate news for the millions of Americans who have experienced first-hand the devastating effects Obamacare has had on their families and businesses," Paxton said in the statement.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also criticized the King v. Burwell decision, writing that the Supreme Court "abandoned the Constitution to resuscitate a failing healthcare law." He said the next U.S. president should "repeal Obamacare and enact real healthcare reforms.”

Supporters of the law, like Ted Shaw, President and CEO of the Texas Hospital Association, are relieved, though. Shaw says that Texas hospitals "can breathe a sigh of relief" now that the Supreme Court has handed down its decision. 

“We have significant work to do to increase access to coverage," Shaw says. "But there is little doubt that hospitals’ financial challenges would be even greater if more than one million Texans were added to the rolls of uninsured.”

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in the U.S., while California has the highest number of uninsured residents.

*This story will be updated as it develops.

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