HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Supreme Court effectively saved Obamacare this morning with a 6-to-3 ruling.
The case turned on the fact that some Americans signed up on state exchanges and others signed up on the federal exchange.
The question was whether the wording of the law forbade the payment of subsidies to lower-income Americans if they signed up on the national site.
The ruling was, there's no difference. A ruling the other way would have effectively ruined the program.
Chief Justice John Roberts, who voted with the majority and then assigned the writing of the ruling to himself, said, "Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them."
He said the national availability of credits was required to avoid "the calamitous result that Congress plainly meant to avoid."
Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a dissent that called the ruling absurd and he read some of it from the bench.
The law referred to "an exchange established by the state," but Roberts said in context it seemed clear to him Congress was referring to all the exchange, including the federal one that more than 30 states defaulted to.
Shares of hospital operators, health services providers and insurers rallied broadly on the ruling.
A libertarian group funded the lawsuit and recruited the four Virginia residents who were plaintiffs in the case.