In an effort to motivate Congress to develop a fix if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down subsidies in states relying on the federal exchange, Families USA is releasing breakdowns by congressional district on the number of constituents who would be hurt by the decision.
Before the end of June, the high court is expected to issue a ruling in King v. Burwell, a case in which ACA opponents claim that only residents of states with their own exchanges are eligible to receive federal insurance subsidies. If the court rules against the administration, about 6.4 million Americans in states using the federal exchange would lose subsidies totaling $1.7 billion, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
It's likely the Supreme Court justices have already decided on the case. In the event the subsidies will be lost, now is the time to get Congress on board in taking some sort of action, Ron Pollack, executive director of liberal-leaning research organization Families USA, told reporters Tuesday during a press call.
In all, 34 states are relying on HealthCare.gov, and over the next few weeks, the research organization will be releasing impact data on roughly 10 states at a time. On Tuesday, Families USA released information for Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
For instance in Alabama, GOP Rep. Bradley Byrne has 23,000 constituents who would see their premiums skyrocket.
Byrne, to date, has been one of the most outspoken critics of Obamacare, even drafting legislation earlier this year that aimed to repeal the health reform law.
Shortly before the call, the research shop Avalere released data that show the average out-of-pocket cost for premiums for federal exchange enrollees could increase by $3,300 in 2015 if the Supreme Court rules against the subsidies.
“Exchange enrollees are currently subsidized at a very high rate,” Elizabeth Carpenter, a director at Avalere, said in a statement. “As a result, many individuals would likely find exchange premiums unaffordable without the tax credits provided under the law. If the court rules for King, many current enrollees are expected to drop coverage.”
Having a lot of people drop coverage could have a catastrophic impact, added Kathy Hempstead of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which Tuesday also released data on the potential impact of the King v. Burwell decision.
“The individual insurance market would be severely affected, with millions fewer purchasing insurance, including young, healthy individuals who help to keep premiums low for the broader population,” Hempstead said in a comment.