The US Supreme Court is weighing President Obama’s healthcare insurance act for the second time on Wednesday based on challenges brought by conservatives regarding tax subsidies, Reuters reported.
The issue of tax subsidies relates to its availability to people buying insurance on exchanges “established by the state.” According to libertarian Washington group Competitive Enterprise Institute, which finances the challengers, the government is set to lose based on that four-word phrase alone.
After saying there is “not a plausible legal basis” to rule against the act, Obama further added that the matter is a “pretty straightforward case of statutory interpretation.”
If the majority rules against the healthcare law, up to 7.5 million people will be affected in at least 34 states. This is due to these states losing subsidies that help lower and middle-income households to gain access to private insurance.
The ruling can also deter younger and healthier people from buying insurance, resulting in a cascading effect for older and unhealthy people by way of higher premiums, said Rand Corporation economist Christine Eibner.
Eibner added, “It would cause major disruption to the individual insurance market.”
There will be a one-hour oral argument for the case from 10 a.m. (1500 GMT). The ruling is expected to be finished by the end of June.
The Democrat-initiated bill was narrowly passed in Congress, with Republicans uniting against it. It is aimed to provide health insurance to millions of Americans who couldn’t afford coverage. However, the bill doesn’t consider people who already have insurance via employment.
It is not known whether or not buyers of insurance on state exchanges would be qualified for tax-credit subsidies.
The 2010 Affordable Care Act, now called Obamacare, won the court’s verdict in a split in 5-4. The key swing vote belonged to Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by George W. Bush.