The Supreme Court ruled that federal health insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act are legal in a 6-3 ruling on King v. Burwell this morning.
The Court refused to apply Chevron deference--that is, to find that the statute is ambiguous and that the federal government's interpretation was reasonable.
Chief Justice John Roberts--who delivered the opinion--Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan voted with the majority.
[RELATED: Landmark King v. Burwell ruling: Industry reacts, looks to future]
In his opinion, Roberts writes that the tax credits are allowed "for insurance purchased on any Exchange created under the Act. Those credits are necessary for the Federal Exchanges to function like their State Exchange counterparts, and to avoid the type of calamitous result that Congress plainly meant to avoid."
Roberts later states that "Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter."
In his dissent, Anthony Scalia says that the Supreme Court "favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites."
"Today's decision by the Supreme Court assures those consumers that the promise of affordable health coverage will still be there for them," non-profit Enroll America's President Anne Filipic said in a statement emailed to FierceHealthPayer. "Right now, our priority is to make sure consumers know what this ruling means: that nothing has changed about their financial help."
The win for President Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform law will maintain subsidized health insurance for an estimated 6.4 million Americans who would have otherwise lost their coverage.
Others warned that a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs would have caused an adverse selection "death spiral," as younger and healthier people pull out of the insurance pool and that premiums could skyrocket by 47 percent.
>> Watch FierceHealthPayer for for continuing coverage and analysis of this breaking news story.
- here's the ruling