Obamacare advocates and many health-care providers breathed a big sigh of relief Thursday as what was called an "existential" threat to the Affordable Care Act was batted aside by the Supreme Court, which voted to uphold subsidies for millions of people served by the federal insurance marketplace.
But opponents of the ACA were angry and disappointed over the resolution of what was possibly their last and best chance to cripple the landmark health-care law. Those opponents had challenged the legality of the Internal Revenue Service's opinion that tax credits are allowed to be granted to customers of HealthCare.gov in 34 states under the ACA.
"We are deeply disappointed with today's Supreme Court decision because it hurts Americans like us in two ways," said the four Virginia residents who were plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case, David King, Brenda Levy, Rose Luck and Douglas Hurst.
"First, it threatens something that our democracy is based on: the rule of law. And second, it allows the IRS to keep offering nationwide subsidies even though the law passed by Congress says otherwise. That unfairly restricts the health insurance choices of millions of people, and threatens their jobs, as well."
But Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, in her own reaction to the decision, also invoked "millions" of Americans when she said they are benefiting from the subsidies, which make their health plans affordable.
"Americans in all 50 states and the District of Columbia can continue to rely on the security and peace of mind that come with affordable, quality, health-care coverage," said Burwell, who was the named defendant in the suit challenging the subsidies.
Anne Filipic, president of the Obamacare advocacy group Enroll America, said, "Although we've always felt confident about the outcome of this case, it's a relief to finally be able to move past these divisive arguments so we can focus on getting more Americans covered in the next enrollment period, and supporting the newly insured as they use and renew their coverage."