Monday, June 15, 2015

Subsidies or No Subsidies

In HealthWatch Wisconsin’s last update, we gave a quick refresher on the King V. Burwell case. As we await the impending decision, there’s a lot of speculation surrounding the outcomes of the Supreme Court case. If the decision favors Burwell (defendant of the current law) the subsidies will remain intact. However, there are a number of possible outcomes if the court rules in favor of King (who argues that the law says the federal subsidies are only available to consumers in state run exchanges). First and foremost, consumers in states without their own health care exchange, including Wisconsin, will lose their tax subsidies. According to DHS, that means more than 6 million people will lose their subsidies. Kaiser Family Foundation shows that in Wisconsin, over 160,000 individuals currently receive tax subsidies, leading to an average savings of $315 per enrollee. If the court rules against subsidies in federal exchanges, Wisconsinites could see a 252% spike on their premium payment.

Secondly, a ruling against subsidies may severely hinder the ACA’s mission. Without subsidies, current plans will be more than 8.05% of consumers’ incomes, and they’ll be exempt from the tax penalty for not having insurance. This means that a large amount of newly insured Americans, would again go uninsured, shrinking the insurance risk pool, increasing health care costs for all.

Many media outlets are predicting that rule will be in favor of the subsidies, however, it can be difficult to predict.  Technically, if the Supreme Court rules against the Obama administration, changes could take effect as early as August. U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Burwell, said that if this is the case, it will be up to state officials and Congress to help consumers find affordable coverage, although the administration will work with states in order to mitigate effects. We are expecting a Supreme Court decision by the end of the month.
Keep your eyes open for a Special Edition HealthWatch Update the moment the opinion is delivered, and we'll share the details, and what it could mean for Wisconsin!

Significant Drop in BadgerCare for Childless Adults in May

The May BadgerCare Plus enrollment numbers are now available, showing what appears to be the continued impact of “renewals” (or lack thereof) for the childless adult population. April was the first month for childless adults to renew their coverage (see Ops Memo 15-02) and enrollment declined by over 2,600. The May data, as predicted, followed suit—but the results were far more drastic than April. In May, almost 6,500 childless adults lost BadgerCare Plus coverage – which means in the last two months, over 9,000 childless adults have lost BadgerCare Plus.

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