Eligible New Jerseyans will continue to receive subsidies in the form of tax credits to purchase health insurance, following a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

In King vs Burwell, the United States Supreme Court in June upheld the ACA by a 6-3 margin. The specific issue was whether the Internal Revenue Service could continue to extend tax-credit subsidies to individuals that purchased coverage through federally created exchanges.  New Jersey, like 33 other states, did not create its own marketplace, but relied on the federally created exchanges (healthcare.gov).

As a result, the Supreme Court ruling caused little change for New Jersey public school districts.

The plaintiffs argued that the ACA explicitly provides that subsidies should only be available for individuals enrolled in an exchange “established by the State” and therefore not to individuals residing in states that rely on the federal exchanges.  Supporters of the law argued that reading the law in its entirety makes clear that Congress intended that subsidies should be available for those enrolling in any exchange, regardless of whether the exchange was established by the state or federal government.

The Court found that while the law may have been inartfully drafted, Congress “passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, [the Court] must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.” Reading the law to allow subsidies for an individual participating in a federal exchange, Chief Justice Roberts wrote in the majority opinion, was required to “avoid the type of calamitous result that Congress plainly meant to avoid.”

Although the latest buttressing of the ACA may create some greater certainty in terms of the health insurance marketplace, practically, the court’s decision has little impact on local boards of education. It just reaffirmed the status quo.

The full opinion can be found at http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/king-v-burwell/.