The Affordable Care Act has been forced to overcome obstacles since long before it was signed into law. In the immediate aftermath of the law’s passage, conservatives were outraged over the “individual mandate” that requires all U.S. citizens to buy health insurance. When the law was deemed constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, frustrated lawmakers and civilian activists had to go back to the drawing board. Their best shot at defeating Obamacare hinged on the decision of another Supreme Court case, King v. Burwell. Yesterday, the Court issued another ruling in favor of Obamacare. As the signs of protesters in Washington read, it appears as if finally the “ACA is here to stay.”
President Obama had a similar message in his speech following the 6-3 decision. “As the dust has settled, there can be no doubt this law is working,” Obama said, according to CBS News. “After multiple challenges to this law before the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. This morning, the court upheld a critical part of this law - the part that’s made it easier for Americans to afford health insurance no matter where you live.” The Court’s decision guarantees that health-insurance subsidies provided by the ACA can continue in all 50 states. According to The Atlantic, the plaintiffs in the case were claiming that the words “established by the state” in the ACA meant that subsidies should be available to people in states with state-run exchanges rather than federal exchanges. If the Supreme Court’s decision had gone the other way, 6.4 million Americans would have lost their health insurance.
The decision is a success story for the Obama administration, which has spent the majority of its time in office fighting for the survival of the repeatedly challenged health care law. The Supreme Court’s multiple rulings confirm that the law is, indeed, constitutional. By Obama’s own estimates, it’s also working. According to the Washington Post, more than seven million people are enrolled in federal health insurance marketplaces.
The law, of course, is far from perfect. The challenges it will face are far from over. Almost every candidate in the 2016 GOP presidential race is running on a platform to repeal and replace Obamacare. The law also faces criticism from the Democratic side. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who voted for the ACA, claims that he favors a single-payer health care system. Whether or not he'd do anything to change health care if elected remains to be seen.
This week has been characterized by historic Supreme Court rulings. On Thursday, the Court guaranteed that 6.4 million Americans can keep their health insurance. On Friday, the Court guaranteed that gay marriage will be recognized in all 50 states. Both of these rulings have faced considerable outrage from conservative politicians and citizens. Yet the rulings are definitive. The Affordable Care Act, at least for now, is in effect and working. It’s impossible to say that it’s “here to stay” forever, but it’s going to take a much more significant effort to dismantle it.
Image Source: The Washington Post