The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will hear a case that could gut the Affordable Care Act, agreeing to decide whether consumers can receive subsidies if they bought insurance on the federal exchanges.
Arguments are not expected until early spring 2015, with a decision possible by mid-summer.
The problem for Obamacare is that it only authorizes subsidies for those who bought insurance on a state exchange, which is the venue that was expected to serve as the point of purchase for enrollees. But – uh oh – many states refused to set up their own exchanges, leaving it to the federal government. Currently, only 14 states and the District of Columbia set up their own exchanges.
The subsidies are central to the law. If they end for the federal exchanges, the law would be in tatters as millions would no longer qualify for federal assistance to buy insurance, the cornerstone of Obamacare.