This blog post was coauthored by the Center for Children and Families of the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute.
In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court will rule on King v. Burwell (King), a case that could have far-reaching effects on health coverage in Illinois and across the country. The court will rule on whether the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows consumers to receive tax credits to help pay for insurance in the states like Illinois that did not set up their own health insurance marketplaces. When Congress wrote and passed the ACA, drafters agreed that the tax credits would be available in all states. However, opponents of the law have latched onto their own interpretation and are seeking to undermine the ACA by denying tax credits to those who sign up for coverage through Healthcare.gov. In Illinois, families and individuals sign up for private coverage and obtain their tax credits through Healthcare.gov because the state did not set up its own state-based marketplace.
According to the Department of Heath and Human Services, about 7% of Illinois’s marketplace enrollees are children, meaning more than 20,000 Illinois kids could be among those who lose coverage. And even more children would be put at risk when their parents lose health coverage, as that impacts the health and financial security of the whole family.
In addition, as many as 408,000 Illinoisans could go uninsured if the court rules for King, according to The Urban Institute. Illinois’s uninsurance rate has dipped to 11% due to tax credits and the Medicaid expansion. A ruling that takes tax credits away from those enrolled through Healthcare.gov would reverse the positive trend and add to the ranks of the uninsured by pricing more Illinoisans out of the health insurance market.
If that wasn’t bad enough, things could get even worse. Experts predict that a bad ruling will cause health insurance premiums to spike for millions of Americans who have health insurance in the individual market, including those who currently receive premium tax credits and those who would not receive premium tax credits regardless of King. Legal experts also suggest that a favorable ruling for King could have implications for Medicaid funding in states that did not set up their own state-based marketplace.
Everyone involved in the health care system, including hospitals, providers and insurance companies, strongly disagrees with the challengers’ position. This is a political tactic from opponents of the ACA to dismantle the law.
With so much at stake, we’ll be following the case closely and will let you know about the ruling and its implications for Illinois’s children and families shortly after the Court issues its decision.