This morning, the United States Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) premium tax credits available in all states. As he did in the Court’s previous decision on the ACA in 2012, Chief Justice John Roberts authored the majority opinion. This decision reaffirms the legality of a key component of the law: subsidies offered to consumers to purchase affordable coverage through federally-run insurance marketplaces. While this decision does not impact California’s insurance marketplace, Covered California, millions of people in 34 states across the country, many from communities of color, can now rest easier knowing the health care coverage they have relied upon over the last 18 months will continue.
CPEHN applauds this important victory for the millions of hard-working Americans whose lives have been improved by the ACA. Now that the ACA remains law of the land, it is time to continue the critical work forward in ensuring that affordable, quality coverage is available for everyone. There will be challenges ahead, and we will likely see attempts to cut funding to Medicaid and our safety net. We will be counting on your support as we look to future victories that improve access to care.
Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on King v. Burwell, a case that contests the subsidies available in the 36 states that have federally facilitated marketplaces or FFMs. The case is based on a hyper-literal, politically motivated mis-reading of Section 1311 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which says that subsidies are available to people “enrolled through an Exchange established by the State under 1311." At stake is nothing less than affordable coverage for 8 million Americans (See Kaiser Family Foundation’s helpful overview of King v. Burwell here).
No matter how it gets decided in June, King v. Burwell will have no impact in California – end of story. But it is fair to say that an adverse decision will create two health care Americas – one that provides peace of mind for its residents (California) and another that will put families right back where they started: at risk of not receiving the health care they need.
States like California that are implementing the ACA in good faith are already demonstrating that the law effectively increases health coverage, aids the long-term effort to lower costs, and creates helpful competition – something that could be achieved elsewhere if only a state had the will to implement the statute effectively.