Health plan officials will gather in Washington amid ominous ambiguity about the future of the Affordable Care Act's private insurance expansion.
Oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in the King v. Burwell case last week left great uncertainty about whether Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy, the two possible swing votes in the case, will opt to strike down premium subsidies in up to 37 states, most likely throwing those states' insurance markets into free fall. Meanwhile, insurers by May will have to submit health plans to state regulators that they hope to sell during the 2016 open-enrollment period—before the fate of the subsidies is decided.
“That is just preoccupying plans,” said Anne Phelps, healthcare regulatory leader at the consulting firm Deloitte. “They're just on hold while they're waiting to see what the Supreme Court (does).”
The opening day of America's Health Insurance Plans' policy conference, running March 11-12, will offer a session on the King case. It will feature Michael Carvin of Jones Day, who argued the anti-subsidy case last week, and University of Michigan law professor Nicholas Bagley, who supports the subsidies.
HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell is slated to speak, and a panel of prominent figures including Kent Thiry, chairman and CEO of DaVita Health, will discuss rising drug prices, healthcare consolidation and the future of Medicare Advantage.
The discussions will take place as insurers nervously await the CMS' decision on Advantage rates.