Obama Is Optimistic Justices Will Let Health Care Law Stand

WASHINGTON — A decision by the Supreme Court to strike down health care subsidies in federally run marketplaces would be a “contorted reading” of the Affordable Care Act that would disrupt coverage for millions of people, President Obama said on Monday.

But at a news conference at the end of a two-day trip to Germany, he expressed optimism that the justices, who are set to announce a decision on a challenge to the subsidies this month, will let his signature domestic achievement stand.

“This should be an easy case. Frankly it probably shouldn’t have even been taken up,” Mr. Obama said. He said that because the ruling is coming soon, “it’s important for us to go ahead and assume that the Supreme Court is going to do what most legal scholars who have looked at this would expect them to.”

He added, “I’m optimistic that the Supreme Court will play it straight.”

His comments were the most pointed yet as the administration awaits a decision by the court that could create chaos for millions of Americans in the health insurance marketplace. The president has refused to say his administration has a plan to help avert that possibility if the court rules against him.

At the news conference, Mr. Obama warned that only Congress — led by Republicans who opposed the health care law — could prevent that disarray if the court invalidated the subsidies.

“Congress could fix this whole thing with a one-sentence provision,” the president said, with a slight smirk.

The news conference was held at the end of a two-day meeting of the Group of 7, where the president consulted with his counterparts on Ukraine, Iraq, Iran, the global economy and climate change.

At the news conference, he also responded to questions from American reporters about other domestic issues, including the court rulings against his immigration actions and the recent hacking into the computers of the federal Office of Personnel Management.

On immigration, Mr. Obama said he was frustrated by a district court’s ruling that has blocked his immigration executive actions, which would have provided work permits and legal status for up to five million undocumented people who live in the United States.

He said he was “absolutely convinced” that his actions were legal, but he said the program would remain in limbo until the court case was fully resolved, perhaps by the Supreme Court.

“The United States is a government of laws and separation of powers,” he said. He added that he did not want undocumented people to come forward and “jump through a lot of hoops” until the legal status of the program was certain.

“I made a decision, which I think is the right one, that we should not accept applications until the legal status of this is clarified,” he said.

On the hacking at the government’s personnel office, Mr. Obama said the effort to harden computer networks against hackers was going to take a long time.

“What we are doing is going agency by agency and figuring out what can we fix with better practices and better computer hygiene by personnel,” he said. “This is going to be a big project and we are going to have to keep on doing it because both state and nonstate actors are sending everything they’ve got trying to breach these systems.”

Mr. Obama said some of the computer attacks were coming from governments trying to steal intelligence and others from commercial interests trying to profit from the information.

“In either case, we are going to have to be much more aggressive and much more attentive,” Mr. Obama said. “We have to be as nimble, as aggressive and as well resourced as those trying to break into these systems.”

The president also made his first comments on the investigation into corruption at FIFA, soccer’s world governing body. He said the corruption scandal had been a topic of discussion on the sidelines of the summit meeting.

“In conversations I’ve had here in Europe, people think it is very important for FIFA to be able to operate with integrity and transparency and accountability,” Mr. Obama said, in his first comments on the matter since the Justice Department indicted top FIFA officials.

“Since we keep on getting better and better at each World Cup,” Mr. Obama added, referring to the United States, “we want to make sure that a sport that’s gaining in popularity is conducted in an upright manner.”

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