Georges Benjamin

APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, said that “more than 6 million Americans can breathe a sigh of relief” after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in King v. Burwell, which protected health insurance subsidies for Americans who gained coverage through the federal government’s health insurance exchange. Photo by APHA

Affordable health insurance is here to stay in every state in the country.

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of the Obama administration in King v. Burwell and maintained health insurance subsidies for Americans in every state. The decision confirmed the Affordable Care Act’s intent to make coverage affordable for people who purchase it through the federal government’s Health Insurance Marketplace.

“Today, more than 6 million Americans can breathe a sigh of relief,” said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, in a news release. “That’s how many people gained coverage through the federal government’s health insurance exchange and relied on tax credits to afford it. The ACA’s Health Insurance Marketplace made this possible, bringing unprecedented opportunities for Americans to access health services necessary to prevent sickness, live longer and healthier, and do so at better prices than before.”

The issue was whether six words written into the ACA, “an exchange established by the state,” prohibited  health insurance subsidies for Americans in the 34 states that operate a federal insurance marketplace. The court ruled that tax credits were written into the law to make coverage affordable in every state.

Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. wrote in the court’s majority opinion. “If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”

According to APHA’s King v. Burwell fact sheet, 7 million people purchased health insurance on the federal exchange — with 87 percent depending on subsidies to do so. In a friend of the court brief, APHA explained that a ruling against the ACA would cause an estimated 9,800 additional preventable deaths per year.

Register for our webinar, “King v. Burwell and Public Health,” on July 7 at 2 p.m. EDT to understand the ruling and work to fulfill the ACA’s promise of affordable care for all.

U.S. Supreme Court photo courtesy Mark Fischer, Flickr.