WASHINGTON -- The small field of candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 was thrilled by the Supreme Court's rejection of a lawsuit Thursday that could have gutted the Affordable Care Act.
In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that the millions of Americans who depend on the ACA for health insurance may continue to receive subsidies from the federal government in places the state government did not set up an exchange. If the court had ruled in the conservative plaintiffs' favor, many Americans would have been forced to give up coverage altogether.
In contrast to the Republican presidential candidates, who promised they would repeal the law if elected, Democrats were, across the board, overjoyed.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton effusively praised the decision on Twitter.
Yes! SCOTUS affirms what we know is true in our hearts & under the law: Health insurance should be affordable & available to all. -H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 25, 2015
"Republicans in Congress have waged a sustained attack against this promise," Clinton continued in a statement. "They’ve voted more than 50 times to repeal or dismantle the law, roll back coverage for millions of Americans, and let insurers write their own rules again -- all without proposing any viable alternatives. Now that the Supreme Court has once again re-affirmed the ACA as the law of the land, it’s time for the Republican attacks to end. It’s time to move on."
Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee also echoed the sentiment that the court's ruling would help Americans obtain health insurance.
"Three cheers! SCOTUS ruling on the Affordable Care Act means more Americans will be covered by health insurance," Chafee said in a statement. "As governor, I'm proud that Rhode Island's rollout of ACA was one of the nation's best."
In a statement, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who supports establishing a universal health care system, pointed out that a ruling in the plaintiffs' favor would have created disparities between Americans in states with federal exchanges and Americans in states that set up their own exchanges.
“The Supreme Court recognized the common-sense reading of the Affordable Care Act that Congress intended to help all eligible Americans obtain health insurance whether they get it through state or national exchanges," Sanders said. "Access to affordable health care should not depend on where you live."
Sanders took the opportunity to note that 35 million Americans still lack health insurance, and that the United States is unique in that it does not guarantee health care for all.
“What the United States should do is join every other major nation and recognize that health care is a right of citizenship," he said. "A Medicare-for-all, single-payer system would provide better care at less cost for more Americans.”
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said the United States government could be doing more to improve health care access.
"The Affordable Care Act has helped more than 17 million Americans access quality and affordable health coverage," O'Malley said in a statement. "Now that the Supreme Court has, once again, upheld the Affordable Care Act, we must continue to build and improve upon this hard won-progress. With the national goal of universal coverage now affirmed, we must reduce costs by improving wellness. Innovations for better coordinated care, personalized medicine, and the alignment of profit incentives to promote wellness make all of this possible."