Plaintiffs in the King vs. Burwell case had challenged the constitutionality of federal insurance subsidies written into the president’s health care law. By ruling in favor of the Department of Health and Human Services, millions of Americans—especially low-income women—are still eligible for subsidies in federally facilitated marketplaces. If the court had gone the other way, more than 4 million women could have lost their subsidized insurance.
Justice Antonin Scalia (joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas) strongly disagreed with the majority. In his dissenting opinion, Justice Scalia wrote that the ACA should be renamed “SCOTUScare,” calling the majority’s decision “interpretive jiggery-pokery.”
Said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority (and publisher of Ms.),
At last, conservative efforts to kill Obamacare in the courts have decisively failed. It is shameful that Republican leaders are already announcing that they will continue to fight to kill Obamacare and take away health care from millions of low-income people. I am confident that this will be a major presidential issue, and that a majority of voters will demand that conservative politicians stop playing games with people’s health and lives.
Scalia’s scathing dissent aside, this decision is a huge victory: Most women who are eligible for these subsidies live in states that rely on the federal insurance marketplace, so the Supreme Court just secured their continued access to care.