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High Court Hears Affordable Care Act Case

March 8, 2015
Plain English Version
Justices of the United States Supreme Court

Justices of the United States Supreme Court

The words in the Affordable Care Act (also called Obamacare) say people are eligible for tax credits if they purchase their health insurance from exchanges “established by the state.”

Thirty-seven states did not establish exchanges. Instead, the federal government built the federal exchange. This is the one that ran into so much trouble when it started in October 2013.

More than 9 million people signed up for insurance through the federal exchange. If the Supreme Court rules that words matter the most, then millions will lose coverage.

The case is called King v. Burwell. Sylvia Burwell is the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

From the start, conservatives and liberals viewed the Act differently. Those on the right saw the Act as a takeover of the health care system. Those on the left saw it as creating a right to health insurance. Under the Act, eligible people without health insurance would have to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty.

Opponents vowed never to stop trying to cripple the Act. They found the language in the Act that they thought would do just that. In the past, the court has said that the intent is very important.

The argument took place in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, March 4th. It is believed that two justices hold the key to the decision. They are Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Justice Roberts was the decider in the first case brought before the court. He said that making people get health insurance or pay a penalty is a “tax” and Congress has the right to levy taxes.

From their questions, it looked like the court would side with supporters of the Act. However, there is an old saying that you can never predict the outcome of a case from the questions.

A great deal – perhaps the health care act itself – is riding on the Court’s ruling.

afordable care map

Source: The Wall Street Journal March 4, 2015

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