Hart Health Strategies provides a comprehensive policy briefing on a weekly basis. This in-depth health policy briefing is sent out at the beginning of each week. The health policy briefing recaps the previous week and previews the week ahead. It alerts clients to upcoming congressional hearings, newly introduced bills, regulatory announcements, and implementation activity related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and other health laws.


Court Upholds ACA Subsidies

The Supreme Court decided to uphold an essential element of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a 6-3 decision to the King v. Burwell case last week. The decision means health care subsidies will still be available for enrollees in states that did not set up their own health insurance exchanges. Had the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, 6.4 million people across 34 states would have likely lost their health insurance, and Republican lawmakers would have been responsible for designing a new system of providing health insurance coverage to these patients. The decision was authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, saying “the argument that the phrase ‘established by the State’ would be superfluous if Congress meant to extend tax credits to both State and Federal Exchanges is unpersuasive.” Chief Justice Roberts was joined in the majority by Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. The decision was praised by Democratic lawmakers and President Obama. Justice Antonin Scalia authored the dissent, arguing that “We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.” Justice Scalia was joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas in his dissent. Republicans will now likely focus on using the special budgetary process known as reconciliation to vote to repeal the health care law. Although the reconciliation process avoids a filibuster and 60-vote threshold, President Obama will veto any legislation seeking to repeal the ACA. The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) most recent estimate scores repeal of the ACA at more than $300 billion over the next decade. Congressional committees are charged by this year’s budget resolution with putting together a replacement to the health care law before the end of July.

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