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Dems: High court 'saved' Republicans 'from themselves'

Dems: High court 'saved' Republicans 'from themselves'

Democrats praising Thursday's Supreme Court decision upholding a central element of ObamaCare are suggesting that even Republican opponents of the law are relieved by the ruling.

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Publicly, GOP leaders are lamenting the high court's decision to uphold insurance subsidies for patients in states where the federal government oversees the process.

But had the Supreme Court ruled against the president, millions of patients receiving subsidies in the 34 federal exchange states likely would have lost their health insurance. That would have put the Republican supporters of the lawsuit in the punishing position of devising a new system to get those people new coverage — or face the blame for the spike in the uninsured rate heading into the 2016 elections.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), the Democratic whip, said there are early signs the Republicans are privately thankful they won't be forced into that political pickle.

"I was just up on the floor. I saw Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanOn The Money: Senate confirms Gensler to lead SEC | Senate GOP to face off over earmarks next week | Top Republican on House tax panel to retire Trump faces test of power with early endorsements Lobbying world MORE. He was lamenting this decision with a very broad smile," Hoyer told a small gathering of reporters in his office in the Capitol. "The Republicans have just been saved from themselves by the Supreme Court of the United States."

Ryan (R-Wis.), the Ways and Means chairman, is among the most vocal opponents of ObamaCare.

The plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case, King v. Burwell, argued that the federal exchange subsidies under ObamaCare are illegal because the law stipulates that the federal help be available for exchanges "established by the state."

In a 6-3 decision, the high court found differently, ruling that it was the intent of Congress to have the subsidies available to low- and middle-income patients nationwide.

"Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them," reads the decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts.

The ruling is a huge victory for President Obama, who dedicated many months of his first term — and spent untold amounts of political capital — moving his signature healthcare reform law through a sharply divided Congress in 2009 and 2010.

The ACA marked the most significant overhaul of the nation's healthcare system since the creation of Medicare under President Lyndon Johnson. The Supreme Court decision means the law will almost certainly remain in place despite repeated Republican attempts to dismantle it.

GOP leaders were quick to indicate that the ruling doesn't mean they won't continue to try.

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerCantor: 'Level of craziness' in Washington has increased 'on both sides' Cheney on Trump going to GOP retreat in Florida: 'I haven't invited him' Republicans race for distance from 'America First Caucus' MORE (R-Ohio) issued a statement characterizing ObamaCare as a "fundamentally broken" system that's "increasing health care costs for millions of Americans."

"Today’s ruling doesn’t change that fact," BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerCantor: 'Level of craziness' in Washington has increased 'on both sides' Cheney on Trump going to GOP retreat in Florida: 'I haven't invited him' Republicans race for distance from 'America First Caucus' MORE said. "Republicans will continue to listen to American families and work to protect them from the consequences of ObamaCare. And we will continue our efforts to repeal the law and replace it with patient-centered solutions that meet the needs of seniors, small business owners, and middle-class families.”

Democratic leaders, meanwhile, are pointing to the recent ruling as validation of the reforms they championed.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), an architect of the Affordable Care Act who ushered the bill through the lower chamber, said she's "jubilant" about the decision and called on GOP leaders to end their attacks on a law the conservative-leaning Supreme Court has now twice upheld.

"It's a victory for common sense and for all American families," Pelosi said during her weekly press briefing in the Capitol. "It's past time the Republicans abandon their assault on the newfound health security the Affordable Care Act is providing.

"They may try this, that or the other thing, but the more time goes by the more people benefit from the Affordable Care Act," she added. "And the more ridiculous I think they look."

Pelosi said she met with House Democrats Thursday morning before the ruling to discuss a strategy if the court ruled against the subsidies.

"I didn't see how it could happen, but you always have to be prepared. And we were," Pelosi said.

She declined to provide the details of her message to her troops.

"We had our agreement among us, but there's no use talking about something that's not going to happen," Pelosi said.