Supreme Court upholds nationwide health care subsidies

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the federal government may provide nationwide tax subsidies to help people buy health insurance, a key tenet of President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The case before the high court, King v. Burwell, had threatened to undermine the president’s Affordable Care Act by eliminating subsidies for millions of people across the country, including about 200,000 in Missouri.

The court ruled in a 6-3 decision that the subsidies are legal. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, and Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the dissenting opinion.

The case centered around whether residents of states that did not adopt local health insurance exchanges were eligible for federal subsidies to buy insurance. Opponents of the president’s health care law said a line in the legislation — “in an exchange established by the state” — meant that only residents of the 16 states that had adopted state insurance exchanges were eligible for the subsidies.

Missouri has not adopted a local exchange, and residents of the state would have lost their subsidies if the challenge to the health care law had been successful.

“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Roberts’ opinion reads. “If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”

Missouri Business Alert will have more updates on this story throughout the day.

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