King v. Burwell could push as many as 7.3 million Americans out of health insurance

Share

The Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in a case that could fundamentally dismantle the provision of the Affordable Care Act that allows people to obtain private health insurance at a more affordable rate.

King v. Burwell challenges the federal subsidies given to U.S. citizens who earn a household income between 100% and 400% the federal poverty level. That means 7.3 million people who rely on the subsidy to pay for otherwise too costly premiums could lose that benefit if the plaintiffs prevail.

The ruling would apply to 36 states that are currently using the federal healthcare exchange on healthcare.gov. The 14 states that implemented their own systems would not be directly affected.

The argument hinges on a simple issue of vague wording. Under the Affordable Care Act subsidies are available in exchanges “established by the state.” Taken literally it means that only states who have their own exchanges qualify for subsidies.

But the government is hanging its defense on even fewer words, just one actually, and that is “such.” If a state doesn’t establish its own exchange, the federal government “shall establish and operate such exchange.” Basically that one word implies that, in that situation, the federal government is essentially acting for and as the state in terms of establishing a healthcare market.

The Obama administration also points out the intention of the law was to provide uniform access to subsidies for qualifying individuals. Supreme Court justices are within their rights to rule based on intention.

To expand on the possible ramifications of a ruling in favor of plaintiffs in this case, Athena Smith Ford, advocacy director for Florida CHAIN joins us by phone from Tallahassee.

You may also like

Medicaid Expansion is in Our Hands Now

Florida is one of only 10 states that has not...

Hillsborough County State Attorney candidates clash at heated political forum

Listen: Candidates for the Hillsborough County state attorney position faced...

‘Hold Fast’ podcast creators talk alt-weeklies, Mike Lacey and more

Alt-weeklies are getting increased attention this year, thanks in part...

The Scoop: Fri. May 17th, 2024 Tampa Bay and Florida headlines by WMNF

WMNF’s Chris Young reports that an advocacy group wants more...

Ways to listen

WMNF is listener-supported. That means we don't advertise like a commercial station, and we're not part of a university.

Ways to support

WMNF volunteers have fun providing a variety of needed services to keep your community radio station alive and kickin'.

Follow us on Instagram

Jazz Connections
Player position: