Updated: Supreme Court Ruling Affirms Underlying Principles of the ACA

On Thursday morning, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in King v. Burwell that the premium tax credits established by the Affordable Care Act should be available in all fifty states, regardless of whether the state established their own health care exchange or if it had been established by the federal government. The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer Sotomayor and Kagan; Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito dissented.

In Justice Robert’s opinion he found that the statutory language that the plaintiffs argue forbids the IRS from providing subsidies in states that have not established their own healthcare exchanges is not clear when read in the context of the overall statute. Looking at the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a whole, the Court found that the ACA does in fact provide for subsidies in all fifty states.  In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

 “Thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision today in King v. Burwell millions of Americans no longer have to fear losing their health insurance because of rising and exorbitant costs. The Affordable Care Act was clearly passed to expand access to health insurance to as many Americans as possible, and today’s ruling affirms this underlying principle.  By holding that the Affordable Care Act does in fact provide for subsidies to states that use the federally facilitated marketplace, the Court has effectively prevented millions of people from losing their health insurance in the years to come.”

You can read the statement in its entirety here.

In his analysis for SCOTUSblog, Lyle Denniston describes what was at stake in today’s case: “Had the ruling in King v. Burwell gone the other way… at least 6.4 million Americans likely would have almost immediately lost the insurance coverage that many of them have for the first time.”

Drew Altman, writing for the Wall Street Journal, explains the path ahead for the Affordable Care Act: “The Congressional Budget Office projects that 23 million people will be covered in 2016. With so many covered and the ACA insurance reforms more firmly in place, repeal is likely to be more a rallying cry for the right than an achievable objective.”

President Obama echoed that the Affordable Care Act is here to stay in an address following the decision: “…after more than 50 votes in Congress to repeal or weaken this law; after a presidential election based in part on preserving or repealing this law; after multiple challenges to this law before the Supreme Court — the Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”

The Reform Movement has long advocated for a system in which health insurance is available to all, and with this in mind, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis and Women of Reform Judaism joined an amicus brief filed by the National Women’s Law Center defending the subsidies and emphasizing the significant negative impact a ruling in favor of the petitioners would have on women, as a major purpose of the Affordable Care Act was to eliminate health care practices that discriminated against and disadvantaged women. Today’s decision reflects longstanding Jewish values emphasizing the importance of health care and represents an important step forward in preserving congressional efforts to expand access to affordable health insurance.

On July 1 at 11:00 AM ET Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick will join the Religious Action Center for a Court Wrap Up conference call to discuss today’s decision in King v Burwell, as well as other major decisions from this term. Join us on Wednesday by registering for the webinar here.


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Jordan Dashow

About Jordan Dashow

Jordan Dashow is a 2014-2015 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the RAC. He graduated in 2014 from Tufts University and is originally from Plainview, NY where he is a member of Manetto Hill Jewish Center.

2 Responses to “Updated: Supreme Court Ruling Affirms Underlying Principles of the ACA”

  1. I am so proud to be Jewish, a Democrat and an American – and a Zionist


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