The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, handing a major victory to the Obama administration.

The decision was 6-3, as Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the court’s liberals.

The key question in the case centered on whether the federal government had the ability to provide subsidies to help low-income Americans buy health insurance.

The challengers in the case argued the way the law was written does not allow for subsidized insurance in states where the federal government had set up insurance exchanges. Instead, the challengers argued, insurance subsidies are allowed only in states that have set up their own exchanges. They pointed to a clause that reads exchanges should be “established by the state,” but members of Congress who were involved in writing the law have disputed this characterization. Thirty-four states currently rely on the federal marketplace.

“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Roberts wrote in his opinion.


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