December 1, 2016
Doctors of the World (MdM) today commended the Supreme Court ruling upholding subsidies for millions of Americans under the Affordable Care Act, but reminded lawmakers that more than 30 million people in the United States remain uninsured.
“Doctors of the World applauds the Supreme Court decision to uphold health insurance subsidies for more than 6 million Americans,” said Miranda Sissons, Doctors of the World USA executive director. “Nonetheless, lack of coverage remains a massive hurdle for the United States, with 30 million—a population bigger than Texas—still uninsured nationwide,” she said.
The King v. Burwell case challenged one line in the Affordable Care Act stating that people who sign up for health coverage through an “Exchange established by the State” may receive federal tax subsidies toward their insurance cost. The plaintiffs argued that the definition of “State” should include only the 16 states plus the District of Columbia that have created their own healthcare marketplaces. The Obama administration argued that the act encompasses any marketplace created by a government, including healthcare.gov, which was established by the federal government.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the case put more than 6 million people at risk of losing their subsidies in the 34 states that currently use the federal government’s health insurance exchange. An analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that people receiving subsidies would face an average premium increase of 287 percent if the Supreme Court ruled against the Obama administration.
The Affordable Care Act requires individuals to have coverage only if the lowest-priced plan available costs less than eight percent of their income. Many people who have been receiving federal subsidies would have likely become exempt without the additional funds.
The decision may also have affected people who bought their own health coverage in the states in question as rates would have likely increased if many people left insurance pools.
Despite today’s ruling, lack of coverage remains a national issue, with millions still uninsured.
“Since it passed in 2010, the Affordable Care Act has greatly improved access and the level of care nationwide – but there is still much to do,” said Sissons. “Now it’s time for lawmakers to focus on finding innovative ways to expand coverage and quality care for all.”