The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act, which argues those who purchase their health insurance through the federal exchanges should not qualify for subsidies that lower the cost of care. If the court sides with those arguments, supporters of Obamacare warn it could have a dramatic impact on millions of Americans who have purchased coverage through the federal exchange system.
Wisconsin is one of 34 states that opted to use the federal exchange. If the subsidies were to go away, Robert Kraig with Citizen Action of Wisconsin warns that 85 percent of the roughly 183,000 state residents would likely be unable to continue to afford their coverage. He said an adverse decision would mean “literally you would have people, women with breast cancer and men with heart conditions, every pre-existing condition imaginable, the most vulnerable people, suddenly stripped of their health insurance.”
Democratic lawmakers are proposing a bill that would create a Wisconsin-based exchange, which they argue is needed as a contingency plan. State Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) says a state-based exchange would make sure residents would have their subsidies protected. The Alma Democrat says that protection is needed to make sure health care costs don’t sky-rocket, which she believes would happen if the federal subsidies went away.
The proposal is unlikely to see much support from majority Republicans in the Legislature, who turned down federal funding to create a state-based exchange.