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Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Subsidies

Updated 1 p.m.

In a 6-3 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld health care subsidies for the 6.4 million people in 34 states relying on the federal exchange for health insurance, including 159,000 people in Indiana.

Covering Kids and Families of Indiana spokesperson Caitlin Priest says the ruling is a huge relief to the families her organization serves.

"They're going to be able to continue seeing their doctor and continue getting their health care needs met and not have to be worrying about health care or economic catastrophes," she says.

If the court had struck down the section of the Affordable Care Act addressing subsidies in states that did not set up their own exchanges, health care premiums for those on the federal exchange would likely have skyrocketed.

"Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them," the majority opinion states.

Here's how NPR breaks down what the case was about:

The case challenges the federal government's ability to provide subsidies to individuals who buy health insurance on the federal marketplace, sometimes called an exchange. Those subsidies are provided to lower- and middle-income customers since the health law mandates that most people have insurance. At issue is a line in the law stipulating that subsidies are available to those who sign up for coverage "through an exchange established by the state." In the heated politics following the health law's passage, a majority of states opted not to set up their own exchanges and instead rely on the federal government.

The case agreed the line in the health care law was not intended to limit federal subsidies to state-based exchanges, instead attributing the line to less than perfect wording.

"The Affordable Care Act contains more than a few examples of inartful drafting," the majority opinion reads.

Health care experts had said states on the federal exchange could have decided to set up their own state-based exchange, but said that was unlikely in Indiana, where Gov. Mike Pence has long criticized the Affordable Care Act.

That will no longer be necessary, as subsidies will continue to be honored through the federal exchange.

As we reported, Republicans were also working on a back-up plan in case the court ruled against the subsidies. The plan would have extended subsidies until a more permanent solution could be agreed upon.

While reaction to the court's ruling has been mixed, many agree it creates additional stability in the health care market.

Here are some reactions:

Anthem Health Insurance

(Nation's largest for-profit health insurance provider, based in Indianapolis)

We are pleased that today's Supreme Court ruling maintains access to coverage for subsidy-eligible individuals across the country.

Anthem is an industry leader in advancing access to coverage for millions of individuals and families. We were the only national health plan to embrace participation in health insurance marketplaces from the very beginning. We look forward to continuing to play an integral role in expanding health care coverage for more Hoosiers.

Gov. Mike Pence, R-Indiana

The Supreme Court's ruling in King v. Burwell is profoundly disappointing to me and every Hoosier who had hoped this ruling would give our nation the opportunity to start over on health care reform.

Today's display of judicial activism by the Supreme Court upholds this deeply flawed law to the detriment of millions of Hoosiers who will continue to be subject to the mandates and taxes in Obamacare.

ObamaCare must be repealed and states must be given the flexibility to craft market-based solutions focused on lowering the cost of health care rather than growing the size of government.

It now falls to the American people to elect new leadership in Washington, D.C. so we can repeal ObamaCare and start over with health care reform based on personal responsibility and consumer choice rather than government mandates and taxes. Indiana will continue to be a leading voice in advancing those principles in the national debate.

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Indiana

I am deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court has decided in favor of the terribly flawed Obamacare law. Millions of Americans will now be forced to continue under a poorly-written and poorly-executed law that is not working for the overwhelming majority of Hoosiers. The law's continued unpopularity is testament to what it has meant for most American families – rising premiums, higher costs and decreased choices.

Indiana Democratic Party

Today, many Hoosiers can breathe easier knowing they will not lose the health care coverage they depend on each day. The Supreme Court's opinion on King v. Burwell reaffirms what we already know – commonsense ideas that improve the lives of everyday folks, including Hoosiers, will always win. The fact is, the Affordable Care Act solves the problems many Hoosiers faced when they tried to obtain quality and affordable health insurance.

Whether it was a preexisting condition, a person's age, or access to affordable prescription drugs, many families were one bad stroke of luck from crippling debt, bankruptcy, or worse. Fortunately, access to affordable healthcare will continue, and it's my hope that those who refused to give up the fight of denying coverage to those who need it will now come to the table to work on commonsense solutions that will unite and improve the lives of our hardworking American families.

This includes Governor Pence – for he has wasted taxpayer money for over five years as a congressman and two years as Indiana's governor fighting a law that's proven to be constitutional in the United States. Any other course of action now is simply unacceptable to Hoosiers.

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