The Supreme Court ruling validating federal health insurance subsidies for nearly 6.4 million Americans wasn’t just a major victory for President Obama‘s signature health law. It also had consumers breathing a sigh of relief that they would be able to afford their policies.
“I’m just so relieved and happy, not just for me but for everyone who’s being helped by this,” said 55-year-old Shawn Turner of Cisco, Illinois, shortly after Thursday’s ruling.
She finished chemotherapy for uterine cancer last summer and relies on the $830-a-month in tax credit she and her husband receive for regular follow-up scans to make sure the cancer is gone. If the court had struck down the subsidies, she said they would have had to dip into their savings or start selling their possessions.
At issue in the case were the subsidies given by the federal government to consumers in the 34 states that relied on the federal health insurance exchange. A handful of words in the federal Affordable Care Act suggested the subsidies were to go only to consumers using exchanges operated by the states. In its 6-3 ruling, the high court said those subsidies did not depend on where people live.
“I’m glad for everybody that’s got it,” said Cindy Connelly, 63, of Amelia, Ohio. “There’s other people who this would be devastating. You hear about old people who share their pills because they can’t afford their prescriptions.”
Connelly, a retired manager of a self-storage business, applied last year through the marketplace after her husband was laid off and lost his health insurance. She and her husband pay $247 a month after receiving a $1,000 subsidy from the government.
“It’s not the greatest insurance, but at least it’s insurance so you don’t lose your home and everything you’ve worked for,” she said.
The reaction was markedly different from governors and lawmakers in states that have fought against the Affordable Care Act. Many continued their calls to repeal the act.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a potential Republican presidential candidate, called on Congress to repeal and replace the law, saying Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement had failed the American people. Some 183,000 Wisconsin residents are getting health insurance through the exchange.
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling upholding the administration’s implementation of ObamaCare means Republicans in the House and Senate must redouble their efforts to repeal and replace this destructive and costly law,” Walker said in a statement.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another potential GOP presidential contender, said in a Twitter message that he agreed with the court’s minority opinion that the subsidies should go only to consumers in states that run their own exchanges.
“This decision turns common language on its head,” Christie said. “Now leaders must turn our attention to making the case that ObamaCare must be replaced.”
Thursday’s court ruling also took pressure off governors and lawmakers in the states that did not set up their own health insurance exchanges, who were largely unprepared for the fallout had the court ruled the other way.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.