Obama Administration Speaks Out as King v. Burwell Decision Looms
As the King v. Burwell ruling fast approaches, the Obama Administration is reiterating that it has no contingency plan in place if SCOTUS rules in favor of the plaintiffs and premium subsidies are eliminated for HealthCare.gov plans. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell testified before the House Ways and Means Committee that the responsibility of contingency planning sits with Congress, states, and governors, as reported by The New York Times. President Obama spoke to the Catholic Health Association in support of the ACA, delivering the message that taking away the coverage that Americans now receive as a result of the ACA would harm millions of people, as reported by The Washington Post.
Congressional Republicans Continue to Offer King v. Burwell Contingencies
Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Representative Dr. Tom Price (R-GA) both announced contingency plans for a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell. Cassidy's plan, the Patient Freedom Act, is co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), and five Senators. The plan seeks to repeal the individual and employer mandates along with the requirement for plans to provide essential health benefits. Individuals would receive either a state or federal tax credit in the form of a Health Savings Account. Price's plan, the RESCUE (Restoring Equity, Saving Coverage, and Undoing Errors) Act of 2015, establishes tax credits based only on age and allows consumers to purchase insurance through Individual Health Pools. The RESCUE Act repeals all insurance reforms in the Affordable Care Act and specifically allows insurers to deny coverage of preexisting conditions if diagnosed within six months of enrollment. These proposals join a growing list of Republican bills, including the Johnson Bill, which would repeal the individual and employer mandates while continuing to provide subsidies only for existing Marketplace participants through August 2017, and the Sasse Bill, which gradually reduces subsidies over an 18-month period.
Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Proposes King v. Burwell Mitigation Plan
Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney has sent a King v. Burwell contingency plan to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and House Speaker. According to the Mississippi Business Journal, the plan would use federal funding to pay for insurance plans purchased through the Mississippi Comprehensive Health Insurance Risk Pool Association. The plan would require approval by all four state officials and the federal government, which appears unlikely given past actions and statements by the governor including twice blocking the establishment of a state-based exchange.