Supreme Court Votes to Uphold Federal Subsidies

The United States Supreme Court has voted 6 to 3 in favor of allowing federal tax credits to be used to assist low and middle-income Americans with the cost of private health-insurance policies, purchased through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces or “exchanges.” This ruling applies to eligible individuals who live in states with their own exchanges as well as those who live in states that only offer federal exchanges.

The issue was brought to the Supreme Court because the ACA law uses the words, “established by the State.” Opponents of the ACA claimed that this wording designates that all funding should come from the state and not from the federal government. Presently, only 16 states and the District of Columbia have their own exchanges, with Pennsylvania and Delaware poised to start in 2016. For more information on which states provide their own exchanges, readers may visit “The Marketplace in your state.”

Since the program’s inception, 6.4 million individuals in the United States have received help to pay for their health-insurance coverage, more than 5 million of whom live in states that have federally run marketplaces. Those in favor of the law claim that its purpose is to provide subsidies for anyone who is eligible nationwide.
Had the federal tax credits been discontinued, individuals whose insurance plans are funded through federal tax credits could have lost their subsidies as soon as August 1st. Had this been the case, millions losing this assistance could potentially drop out of the program.

Additionally, individuals who simply cannot afford health insurance on their own – often those who may be unemployed, unable to work, or whose jobs do not offer affordable healthcare programs – would be forced to go without health insurance. Such changes would have a significant impact on the MS community, many of whom may experience these types of insurance-coverage challenges. The decision to keep the federal subsidies in place enables millions of Americans to continue their health-insurance coverage through the ACA.

For more information on this ruling, please view the Multiple Sclerosis Coalition’s press release titled, “Multiple Sclerosis Coalition applauds SCOTUS ruling on ACA.” The Multiple Sclerosis Coalition is a group of eight member organizations – including MSAA – whose mission is to increase opportunities for cooperation and provide greater opportunity to leverage the effective use of resources for the benefit of the MS community.

On the website, President Obama released a statement in response to “Today’s Decision.” He talks about the many advantages of the Affordable Care Act to individuals who might otherwise be without health insurance. The President’s message also provides a link to “add your voice” if this decision means something to you.

For more information on health-insurance options, please see MSAA’s website section, “My Health Insurance Guide.” For information about MS or to speak with a trained Client Services Specialist, please call MSAA’s Helpline at (800) 532-7667, extension 154. Questions to MSAA’s Client Services department may also be emailed to

Written by Susan Wells Courtney, MSAA Senior Writer and Creative Director