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Supreme Court Obamacare Ruling Probably Wouldn't Have Affected Kentucky Much Either Way

Ja'Nel Johnson

Either way, the U.S. Supreme Court's 6-3 decision on whether national health care subsidies provided through the Affordable Care Act are legal wouldn't have had a direct affect on Kentucky.

The King v. Burwell case was a dispute over language in the ACA. The SCOTUSBlog recently reported:

(O)ne provision of the ACA indicates that subsidies are only available if you purchase your health insurance on an exchange “established by the State.” The plaintiffs in this case argue that subsidies are therefore not available if you are one of the roughly seven million people who buy their health insurance on an exchange established by the federal government, because the federal government is not a “State.”

Kentucky has Kynect, it's own health care exchange, and wouldn't have been directly affected. The affects of a ruling for the plaintiffs was disputed—some said it could've been disastrous for the ACA, others saying it'd only be disastrous for state's that didn't implement their own exchanges.

Kentucky is surrounded by states that don't have their own exchanges, including Indiana. (We'll have reaction from Hoosier leaders later today.)

But Thursday's court ruling means the people who get the federal subsidy for health care will still be able to  get it. NPR reports:

The Supreme Court today handed the Obama administration a major victory on health care, ruling 6-3 that nationwide subsidies called for in the Affordable Care Act are legal.

"Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them," the court's majority said in the opinion, which was written by Chief Justice John Roberts. But they acknowledged that "petitioners' arguments about the plain meaning ... are strong."

The majority opinion cited the law's "more than a few examples of inartful drafting," but added, "the context and structure of the Act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase."

In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky continued his criticism of the ACA.

“Today’s ruling won’t change Obamacare’s multitude of broken promises, including the one that resulted in millions of Americans losing the coverage they had and wanted to keep. Today’s ruling won’t change Obamacare’s spectacular flops, from humiliating website debacles to the total collapse of exchanges in states run by the law’s loudest cheerleaders. Today’s ruling won’t change the skyrocketing costs in premiums, deductibles, and co-pays that have hit the middle class so hard over the last few years.

“The politicians who forced Obamacare on the American people now have a choice: crow about Obamacare’s latest wobble towards the edge, or work with us to address the ongoing negative impact of a 2,000-page law that continues to make life miserable for too many of the same people it purported to help.”

President Obama is expected to discuss the ruling later. We'll update when that happens. Update: Speaking Thursday, Obama said the ruling shows that Obamacare is "here to stay."

On another note, the Supreme Court did not on Thursday issue an opinion on a case that directly involves Kentucky—same-sex marriage. That could come on Friday or Monday.

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.

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