The Affordable Care Act (ACA), more commonly known as Obamacare, never fails to make national headlines. Chances are, you have heard about the most recent controversy surrounding the healthcare legislation, the Supreme Court case King v. Burwell.
But what is the Supreme Court case challenging, and what does it mean for Americans? Here are the most important facts that you need to know about the ongoing court case.
King v. Burwell is only challenging one line of the Affordable Care Act.
Yes, the courts are only challenging part of the Obamacare legislation- they already ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional in 2012, so no matter what the court says, the ACA is here to stay, at least for the near future.
What this case is calling into question is the legality of the implementation of government subsidies at a state-to-state basis, Kaiser Health News explains. Essentially, what the challenges are calling to debate is whether or not Americans who reside in states that do not have their own exchange programs (and nearly three dozen of them do not) have the right to receive subsidies from healthcare.gov. They would like for citizens to be limited to using state-established exchange systems. For those living in the 13 states that already have state-run exchanges, the ruling of this court case will be a non-factor.
What happens if the courts rule in favor of the challengers?
Kaiser Health News reports that if the Supreme Court deems the federal exchange unconstitutional in non-exchange states, more than 9.3 million people could lose some or all of their subsidies, potentially boosting the number of uninsured Americans up by 8.3 million people.
Those who would be most affected by such a ruling are low to moderate-wage working adults in the Southern states, says an Urban Institute study.
Is the healthcare system prepared for a ruling in favor of the challengers?
Despite the fact that The White House has voiced its confidence that the challengers in the King v. Burwell will not claim victory, doctors and patients alike are doing all that they can to prepare for the worst.
Reuters reports that the National Physicians Alliance met in Washington recently in order to discuss how to prepare community organizations to provide medical care for those who could become uninsured if the challengers win the case.
Doctors across the map are scrambling to see all low-income patients that are being treated for serious and terminal illnesses, such as cancer before the Supreme Court makes its ruling. Others are making sure to give complete diagnostic checkups and exams to all of their patients who are at risk of losing their coverage so that no serious illnesses arise while they become uninsured. Despite the president’s optimism that his healthcare law will be completely upheld, everybody in the healthcare world is devising a plan B.
What does the general public think?
As with every aspect of the Affordable Care Act, this question does not have a cut-and-dry answer. However, The Hill reports that polls have shown that 61% of Americans hope that the subsidies are upheld.
Polls further report that even between members of the Republican Party, which is well-known to be against the Obamacare legislation, the desired outcome of this case is non-consensual. At this point in time, there does not appear to be overwhelmingly widespread support for the cancellation of existing government subsidies.
Nonetheless, the polls state that only one in five Americans think that the language of the Affordable Care Act should remain unchanged.
The Supreme Court is expected to release its ruling by the end of June.