Obamacare survived another brush with death before the Supreme Court today. The justices permitted the government to continue to give subsidies to those who purchase coverage on the federally run insurance exchange. (To read the full opinion, click here.)
Had the Court ruled the other way, the law would not actually have been struck down. However, its effectiveness would have been severely limited. In the 34 states that use the federal exchange, healthcare.gov, most people with low incomes would have found it difficult or impossible to afford health insurance. They are the people most in need of law's help.
But there is another important winner in the decision – health care business. Obamacare has given a major boost to large swaths of the industry, including insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and hospitals, just to name a few. It has given them millions of new customers, and it will now remain in full effect.
America has a long tradition of creating government programs that promote private health care business. Vulnerable patients are not the only ones who benefit when the government intervenes in health care. This tradition was not lost on Chief Justice John Roberts and the other justices who voted to uphold the subsidies. (My recent book on the history of American health care tells the story in more detail.)
In his dissenting opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia coined a new term to describe the law – SCOTUScare – since it has now been saved twice by SCOTUS (the Supreme Court of the United States).
Call it what you want. The path is now clear for the Affordable Care Act to continue to make American health care better on many levels.
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