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Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act Subsidies

June 2015

This week, the Supreme Court released its decision on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance exchange subsidies. In a 6 – 3 decision, the court upheld the ACA subsidies, ruling that the subsidies should be available to Americans. The court held that while certain sections of the law were ambiguous, the overall purpose of the law was clear and that subsidies should be provided in all states regardless of who established the exchange. As a result of this ruling, over 6 million Americans in states that rely on federal insurance exchanges will be able to keep their health insurance and their access to care.

The Court did not use the "Chevron principle," which holds that when a law is unclear the court defers to interpretation by federal agencies. This means that this ruling cannot be changed unilaterally by a different Administration – so the ACA is the law of the land. Wiring the majority opinion, Justice Roberts wrote, "Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter."

Last Reviewed: October 2017