A final ruling on the constitutionality of Obamacare is expected by July of this year, and the Supreme Court is now hearing oral arguments. The case is complicated, largely due to the way the law is written. The court is going through the arduous task of trying to decipher exactly what Obamacare is supposed to do and how it will effect the states, and the people. Too much in the wording of the law is vague, and a large portion of the argument centers around whether the law coerces the states into creating their own exchanges. It’s not entirely clear how congress intended to offer subsidies to those using the exchanges. More liberal justices seem to believe that congress intended for everyone using the exchange to purchase health insurance to recieve the subsidies, even if their state relies on the federal exhchange instead of having established their own. More conservative judges believe that these subsidies can only be given to those who purchase insurance on an exchange set up by their own state. Some legal experts believe this would be considered coersion, as in this case, the federal government is giving the states very little choice in the matter. If this interpretation of the law prevails, the states are left with a choice between setting up an exchange they don’t want or letting their citizens lose subsidies that would otherwise be owed to them.
Supreme Court Justices remain divided on the issue, and it looks like it could go either way at this point. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy are expected to be the swing votes. If one of them votes in favor of Obamacare, the law will likely stay in effect, but if both accept the petitioner’s arguments, the Obamacare, or the worst portions of it at least, will likely be stricken.