Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court announced a ruling in the case of King v. Burwell that upholds the subsidies awarded to Floridians who enrolled in coverage through HealthCare.gov.
Over the past few months, policy makers, health care leaders and media predicted a variety of consequences based on the justices ruling differently. Now that the ruling has been made, it’s important for Floridians to understand what it means for them.
One of the predictions was that after taking advantage of the insurance subsidies to buy coverage, over 1 million Floridians would owe thousands of dollars to the IRS at tax time. With the subsidies upheld, this is an obstacle averted for 1.3 million Floridians who would have collectively owed more than $4 billion for the 2015 tax year.
Many observed that without subsidies, coverage purchased through HealthCare.gov would become unaffordable for most and result in dropped coverage, rising premiums and market disruption — known as a “death spiral” in the insurance business.
With Thursday’s ruling, continuing subsidies will mean that recipients will not see a dramatic and unexpected increase in their premium payments. Florida’s participating insurers will be pleased that those policy holders are able to continue their coverage.
Lastly, it was predicted that states that had not already established an exchange would lose all funding for state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance programs. Timothy Jost of Washington and Lee University School of Law noted that the phrase “exchange established by the state” appears 10 times in the Affordable Care Act, with the majority of instances applied to the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance programs. He opined that if the plaintiff’s argument about the premium tax credits were accepted and applied consistently throughout the law, it would result in the cancellation of all Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance programs if a state has not also established an exchange under the ACA.
In light of the court’s decision, Florida’s Medicaid program will continue in its current form and is unaffected, while Florida’s KidCare program federal funding will be revisited by Congress in the future.
Collectively, these programs serve 3.5 million Florida residents.
Overall, the ruling means that 4.8 million Floridians enrolled in subsidized health care coverage programs can still use their insurance cards.
Rose Naff is the chief executive officer of Florida Health Choices, Florida’s insurance marketplace. She has more than 20 years’ experience in directing campaigns to reach the uninsured and is a nationally recognized health care expert. For information: www.myfloridachoices.org.