Obamacare at the Supreme Court: Justices Again Divided Over Landmark Health Law

In his Nov. 12, 2014 file photo, the HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, on a laptop screen, shown in Portland, Ore. Being uninsured in America will cost you more in 2015. In 2015, all taxpayers have to report to the Internal Revenue Service for the first time whether or not they had health insurance the previous year. Most will check a box. It’s also when the IRS starts collecting fines from some uninsured people, and deciding if others qualify for exemptions. (AP Photo/Don Ryan, File)
In his Nov. 12, 2014 file photo, the HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, on a laptop screen, shown in Portland, Ore. Being uninsured in America will cost you more in 2015. In 2015, all taxpayers have to report to the Internal Revenue Service for the first time whether or not they had health insurance the previous year. Most will check a box. It’s also when the IRS starts collecting fines from some uninsured people, and deciding if others qualify for exemptions.  (AP Photo/Don Ryan, File)
In his Nov. 12, 2014 file photo, the HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, on a laptop screen, shown in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Don Ryan, File)

 

Washington (CNN) – The future of health care in America is on the table — and in serious jeopardy — Wednesday morning in the Supreme Court.

After more than an hour of arguments, the Supreme Court seemed divided in a case concerning what Congress meant in one very specific four-word clause of the Affordable Care Act with respect to who is eligible for subsidies provided by the federal government to help people buy health insurance.

If the Court ultimately rules against the Obama administration, more than 5 million individuals will no longer be eligible for the subsidies, shaking up the insurance market and potentially dealing the law a fatal blow. A decision likely will not be announced by the Supreme Court until May or June.

All eyes were on Chief Justice John Roberts — who surprised many in 2012 when he voted to uphold the law — he said next to nothing, in a clear strategy not to tip his hat either way.

“Roberts, who’s usually a very active participant in oral arguments, said almost nothing for an hour and a half,” said CNN’s Supreme Court analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who attended the arguments. “(Roberts) was so much a focus of attention because of his vote in the first Obamacare case in 2012 that he somehow didn’t want to give people a preview of how he was thinking in this case. … He said barely a word.”

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