King v. Burwell: Another Supreme Court Challenge to the ACA

By Rosana Garcia

Photo: The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

The Supreme Court has decided to hear King v. Burwell—a case which poses yet another threat to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  A bad decision in the case could cause many U.S. residents to slide back onto the uninsured rolls.

Right now, a minority of states, Connecticut included, have established their own state-based exchanges, which allow individuals and families to purchase health insurance and receive subsidies to defray the cost of that coverage.  The rest of the states utilize the federal exchange (Healthcare.gov) and residents are able to also receive subsidies this way.

The plaintiffs in the case argue that nowhere in the law does it state that federal subsidies would be available to those purchasing insurance on the federal exchange, but only to those purchasing in state exchanges (like ours in Connecticut).  If those on the side of King, though, win this case in the Supreme Court, residents in the majority of the states using the federal exchange will no longer be legally eligible for subsidies.

Jonathan Cohn, writing for the New Republic, points out that the effects of a ruling in favor of King would be devastating to many who depend on the subsidy to afford health insurance.  Some, if not most, of those affected will return to being uninsured.  Perhaps some of the states using the federal exchange would establish their own exchanges—but there is no guarantee this will happen.  After all, it hasn’t happened yet in most states.

On the face of it, the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case, regarding the legality of federal subsidies that help people pay for health insurance, doesn’t affect Connecticut.  That is because Connecticut is one of the states that runs its own exchange, Access Health CT.  The CT Mirror explains a little more here.  Still, we will be keeping a close eye on this issue and the consequences of the final ruling.

The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case in February/March of 2015, with a ruling expected in June 2015.  After all the progress that has been made, it would be a shame to take this huge step back.

Want to read more on this issue?  Here are some other articles:

Obamacare case headed to U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t directly affect CT by Ariel Levin Becker (from CT Mirror)

Law in the Raw is an in-depth opinion piece by Linda Greenhouse (from the New York Times)

Families USA will be keeping this page updated with information

A Non-Lawyer’s Guide To The Latest Supreme Court Case Attacking Obamacare by Ian Millhiser (from Think Progress)

King v. Burwell: The new Supreme Court case that could gut Obamacare, explained by Adrianna McIntyre (From Vox)

Will a Republican court do to Obamacare what a Republican Congress could not? And Here’s what the Supreme Court could do to insurance premiums in your state both by Jonathan Cohn (From The New Republic)

Map: How many Americans could lose subsidies if the Supreme Court rules for the plaintiffs in King vs. Burwell? (From Kaiser Family Foundation)

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