The U.S. Supreme Court, to the surprise of many, validated the Affordable Care Act Thursday. The 6-3 decision held that it was not the intent of Congress to limit subsidies for health care premiums to only those states with state health exchanges. Residents of states without exchanges, who had to go to the national health exchange to get coverage, would continue to receive subsidies under the ACA. Chief Justice John Roberts provided a key vote and wrote the majority opinion.
Ironically, then-Sen. Barack Obama had voted against Roberts' nomination to the Supreme Court. Now Roberts has twice saved Obama's signature legislation. Three years ago, Roberts' perception of the statutory penalties for not buying health insurance as a tax saved the ACA.
Republican opponents of the ACA immediately jumped on Thursday's decision, declaring that the ACA was "broken" and would have to be repealed in its entirety. None of the GOP spokesmen explained how the legislation was "broken," which seemed to be an odd description considering the millions of people who have signed up and who are receiving health care insurance because of the 2009 legislation.
Republicans may get their chance at repealing the bill if they retain control of Congress and can win the presidency. Congress has taken dozens of votes to repeal the act, but none of them have taken effect because they could not pass in the Senate or because President Obama would veto the repeal if it ever passed Congress.
A controlling majority in the Senate and continued control in the House could make it possible for repeal legislation to pass after the 2016 election. If voters put one of the dozen or more GOP presidential candidates in the White House, then the ACA could be repealed without threat of veto.
But would GOP leaders really go that far? Already millions of Americans are depending on the ACA for health care coverage. Repealing the act would revoke their health insurance, and that would certainly pose a political risk for the party responsible for taking away a benefit Americans want and need, especially if the GOP has no alternative legislation — only a vitriolic hatred of "Obamacare."