WASHINGTON — A crowd outside the U.S. Supreme Court erupted into cheers Thursday when the court ruled in favor of the subsidies and federal exchanges in the Affordable Care Act.
“ACA is here to stay!” chanted an enthusiastic group.
After surviving threats of repeal, the health-care law has now overcome its second bout in the Supreme Court in a 6-3 decision.
This is likely the last hurdle for legitimacy that the law — commonly know as Obamacare — will have to face, said Ron Pollack, the executive director for Families USA — a national organization that filed a friend-of-the-court brief in favor of the law.
He listened to the justices deliver the opinion, then spoke to reporters outside the court.
“It’s the law of the land, and it will remain the law of the land,” he said. “The over 16 million people who previously didn’t have health insurance will continue to have health insurance. This will bring tremendous peace of mind to millions of people who rely on those subsidies to keep health insurance affordable.”
The number of people who have health insurance will likely swell thanks to this decision, Pollack said.
“There are still a fair number of people who do not have coverage,” Pollack said. “We need to reach out to those folks and make sure they get the subsidies if they are eligible. The challenge now is to make sure the law gets implemented fairly.”
At the heart of the legal fight was a dispute in the wording of the law and whether the federal exchanges set up in states that did not set up their own were legal. If the federal exchanges had been ruled illegal, residents in those states would not have qualified for subsidies to help them buy insurance.
The more than 40 demonstrators applauded as Pollack walked out of the Supreme Court. By his side was Gwen Jackson, a real estate broker from Sugar Land, Texas.
Jackson traveled to Washington from her home with Families USA. Jackson said she had to make the trip because the Affordable Care Act saved her husband’s life.
“If you go through something like that, it changes you,” she said. “That really changed our lives. Once you’re impacted in that way, you have to be involved.”
Jackson’s husband, Joe, had ameloblastoma, an aggressive tumor that attacks the jaw bone. Neither of them had insurance, and when they tried to get it in 2012, her husband was denied due to a pre-existing condition.
But a program created by the Affordable Care Act law, Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plan, allowed her husband to get insurance despite his cancer.
“He went through 12 hours of surgery and was in intensive care for four days,” she said. “If we had not had insurance, we wouldn’t have been able to have the surgery.”
Demonstrators held signs listing number of people who were expected to lose coverage in each state if the court had ruled against Obamacare. When the decision became public, the protesters slapped yellow stickers onto their signs that read, “STILL COVERED.”
Reach Jonathan A Capriel at [email protected] or 202-408-1489. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Donwload photos: ACA-react.zip