Supreme Court case on insurance subsidies could affect Virginia

Supreme Court case on insurance subsidies could affect Virginia

The Supreme Court heard a case this week on whether consumers in states that did not set up state health insurance exchanges can receive federal subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. Virginia is among the 34 states that use the federal exchange. Maryland and DC each set up their own exchange and would not be affected by the ruling. Nationally, itês estimated that more than 7 million Americans receive federal subsidies. The effect of that many people losing their insurance because they could no longer afford to pay for it would be disastrous.

Because neither the Obama administration nor the Republicans has a Plan B, some health insurance analysts have said that several states may try to set up their own state exchanges after the ruling, to ensure that their citizens donêt lose the subsidies they now enjoy, according to the Washington Post. But such an effort could present enormous logistical difficulties at this late stage. Consider how long it took to get the Maryland and DC exchanges and websites up and running and some state exchanges are still not fully functioning. The states that do have exchanges received hundreds of millions of dollars in grants from the federal government that are no longer available.

The subsidies could stop as soon as 25 days after a Supreme Court ruling, though Congress or the Court could set up a longer period for consumers to keep their subsidies. Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has said it is a top Republican priority to come up with an alternative if federal subsidies are nixed in 34 states.

Analysis of the Supreme Court arguments indicated that the Court was fairly evenly split, and a decision could go either way. A decision is not expected until June. WANADA, accordingly, will continue to keep members informed.

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