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US Supreme Court upholds tax subsidies for Obamacare

The US Supreme Court has decided to retain tax subsidies crucial to the implementation of Obamacare. The decision would enable millions of US citizens to continue to profit from low-cost health insurance.

President Barack Obama's controversial health care law, the Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare, withstood another test on Thursday after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of tax subsidies.

In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that the health care law did not restrict tax subsidies to states that established their own health insurance exchanges. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy voted with those in favor of upholding the tax subsidies.

The decision meant that 13 states with their own exchanges, three states with hybrid federal-state exchanges and 34 with federal exchanges would all receive tax benefits.

The case centered on tax benefits offered by Obamacare which helped low- and moderate-income people buy health insurance. Customers bought these plans on exchanges, where they could choose between competing insurance deals.

Conservative opponents of Obama's health care system had

challenged the formulation of the act in court

, asking whether exchanges "established by the state" had been correctly interpreted by the federal government to make the subsidies available on federal exchanges. The act did not expressly mention insurance policies filed through healthcare.gov, the federal government's health care plan portal.

Justice Roberts wrote that although the challenger's arguments were "strong…the context and structure of the act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase."

The Supreme Court's latest decision will protect access to health care for 16 million citizens who have profited from President Obama's Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010.

mg/jil (dpa, AFP)

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