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Politics & Government

Supreme Court Ruling on ACA Would Impact Thousands in Wisconsin

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Thousands of low-income Wisconsin residents who get federal subsidies for their health coverage could be impacted by a case the U.S. Supreme Court is considering.

Oral arguments are set to begin at 9 a.m., Wednesday, in a challenge to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. In the case King v. Burwell, plaintiffs argue Congress intended to limit tax subsidies under the Affordable Care Act to residents of states that created their own insurance exchanges. Wisconsin is not one of those states. Gov. Walker, along with 33 other governors, chose to let the federal government do the job.

Prof. Tom Oliver researches health policy and politics at UW Madison. He says a Supreme Court ruling against tax subsidies in states like Wisconsin would be a huge blow to thousands.

“What’s clear is that for individuals, who cannot get affordable insurance otherwise, this would be potentially devastating. It would be hundreds or thousands of dollars of assistance that they need to afford what is very, very costly health insurance coverage,” Oliver says.

But Oliver says it’s hard to imagine the court coming down on the side of Affordable Care Act opponents on this point. He predicts the justices will look the entire law when they consider the question of subsides. And, Oliver says a review of non-partisan reports does not support the idea that Congress intended to give subsidies to some, and not others.

“Not a single one of those reports ever assumed that these insurance subsides would not be available to all Americans who qualified on the basis of their income, whether or not the exchanges that they were using were established by the state or were established in a state by the federal government,” Oliver says.

A ruling is expected in late spring.

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