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Will the Supreme Court take away your health care?

Written by Ethan Rome

Will the Supreme Court take away your health care? Incredibly, that’s what could happen when the Court rules in late June on a lawsuit designed to bring down the new healthcare law – the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare as it’s often called.

Most of us have never heard of King v. Burwell, but it’s a case that affects all of us. 

For example, if you are one of the 129 million Americans with a pre-existing condition like diabetes, high blood pressure or asthma, beware – if the Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, Congress may give insurance companies the green light to go back to rejecting people, denying their coverage or charging more because they’re sick.

If you are a parent with greater peace of mind because you’ve been able to keep your children on your health insurance plan as they’ve become young adults, brace yourselfIf the High Court rules in favor of the lawsuit, that could ultimately wipe out the ACA and all the benefits and consumer protections that go with it (see below).

The most immediate impact is that more than 8 million people will lose their health insurance in a matter of weeks after the decision. Premiums will skyrocket by 47 percent, nearly 10,000 people will die each year because of loss of coverage, insurance markets will collapse, and hospitals will be hit with as much as $12 billion in uncompensated care, crushing their already tight budgets.

All of this is because millions of people will lose the tax credits they receive to help them buy insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), credits that make or break whether they can get coverage or keep it when they have a big life change, such as changing jobs.

Thanks to the ACA, low and moderate-income working families can shop for health insurance through an online marketplace and get federal tax credits to make their coverage affordable. In 2014, the average savings was $3,216 a year or $268 a month.

The lawsuit, supported by the Republicans in Congress and other longtime opponents of the law, such as the Heritage Foundation, claims that people shouldn’t be eligible for tax credits if they live in one of the 34 states that participate in the ACA’s federal marketplace. The lawsuit is based on a political interpretation of a four-word phrase in the law they say limits the credits to the 16 states and the District of Columbia that operate their own marketplaces.

But what the plaintiffs say isn’t true, and the people who say so are the Members of Congress who wrote the law, including several Republican Senators. Plus, the partisan activists and politicians who support the lawsuit have wanted to repeal the ACA before it was even passed.

This lawsuit is unfair. Getting insurance shouldn’t be based on where you live. And the damage this case could cause is too great. That’s why the nation’s major hospitals, insurance companies, and associations of doctors and nurses are opposed to the lawsuit. They’re joined by legal scholars, economists, Members or Congress, state legislators, and health advocates.

The public also supports keeping the tax credits for everyone – in a recent poll 71 percent said they want the credits to be available in all fifty states.

The Court is expected to issue a decision in just a few weeks. It’s anybody’s guess what the nine justices will do. Stay tuned.

 Fast Facts: The Affordable Care Act is working.

  • 16+ million people without insurance now have coverage
  • 105 million Americans no longer have a lifetime limit on their health coverage.
  • 76 million people with private insurance can receive preventive care with no out-of-pocket costs, and women have access to additional services such as free wellness visits and birth control.
  • 4 million seniors and people with disabilities have saved more than $15 million on their prescription medications.
  • 3+ million young adults have health insurance on their parent’s plan.
  • Insurance companies can no longer drop your coverage when you get sick, put a lifetime cap on the dollar amount of coverage you can receive, or raise your premiums with no accountability.
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