New York City’s top Democrats hailed the Supreme Court’s ruling today that President Barack Obama’s healthcare law may provide nationwide tax subsidies to help low-income people buy health insurance.
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said in a statement that “it’s time for Republicans to finally accept it as a law of the land.”
“In New York, thousands of people are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act and these endless lawsuits have left them wondering if their coverage would be taken from them as Republicans desperately try and outdo each other to try and appease their base,” Ms. Mark-Viverito said.
“Despite endless Republican scaremongering,” she added, “the Affordable Care Act is working.”
Public Advocate Letitia James and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman concurred.
“The Affordable Care Act will be remembered as one of President Obama’s most important legacies, and will stand as shining hallmark of progress in the story of America,” Ms. James said. “Let today’s decision further empower all of us to continue to fight to improve the lives of working people everywhere.”
“I applaud the court and I congratulate President Obama for turning back a legal challenge that would have limited access to health insurance and health insurance choices for our neediest citizens,” Mr. Schneiderman added.
Congressman Joseph Crowley, the vice chair of the Democratic caucus and the chairman of the Queens Democratic Party, said he hoped the King v. Burwell decision would convince Republicans to stop trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“With this partisan lawsuit behind us, I hope Republicans will finally abandon their relentless pursuit to weaken the law, and join us in not only working to positively improve our healthcare system, but also on ways to create jobs and strengthen our economy,” he said.
The King v. Burwell case represented the latest threat to Obamacare after a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the law.
The case concerned healthcare marketplaces, known as exchanges, that allow people who lack insurance to shop for individual health plans. Some states, like New York, set up their own exchanges, but more than 30 allowed the federal government to step in to run them.
The question in the Supreme Court case was what to make of a phrase in the law that seemed to say the subsidies are available only to people buying insurance on “an exchange established by the state.” Plaintiffs from Virginia argued that the law forbids the federal government to provide subsidies in states that do not have their own exchanges.
But in a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court sided with the Obama administration. Three of the court’s most conservative members–Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito Jr. and Antonin Scalia–dissented.
Updated with comments from Mr. Schneiderman and Ms. James.