Obamacare and the Supreme Court

People coming to my office lately have asked about the current case before the Supreme Court: King vs. Burwell. This case challenges the legality of health insurance subsidies in states where the federal government is operating the Affordable Care Act insurance Marketplace, absent a state exchange. The justices are expected to have issued a ruling by the end of June, so perhaps as you read this, the issue will already be decided. Here are some answers to questions commonly posed.

How will this affect my subsidy?

Although people in 34 states face the loss of subsidies if the court finds for the challengers, Oregonians are not among them. Either ruling is unlikely to affect subsidies here. Oregon uses the federal exchange to administer the Marketplace, but we still have a state exchange. Should Oregon’s subsidies be threatened, Oregon will probably return to the state exchange system.

What about the other states?

According to the DHHS, about 6.4 million Americans could lose their subsidies. Total chaos!

What about OHP?

Since funding for OHP comes from Medicaid, this program is not involved in the pending ruling. So, OHP recipients will not be affected in any way.

Could this be the end of the Affordable Care Act?

Not likely. The issue is with the subsidies. Key reforms, such as guaranteed coverage regardless of preexisting conditions, and minimum policy benefits packages, would stand. Still, a victory for the challengers could be extremely disrupting. Indeed, Congressional Republicans are already planning to temporarily continue the subsidies, if the Court overturns the aid. This would not be a long term solution- ultimately the bill would seek to eliminate Obamacare, replacing it with a new program, as yet to be revealed. Stay tuned!

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