On March 4 the Supreme Court will hear a case, King v. Burwell, that could gut Obamacare and put 9.3 million people’s health care coverage at risk — with a big impact on women of color and families already struggling to make ends meet.
The case is yet another attempt by those opposed to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to undermine the health care law and the president. It would take away affordable coverage from the people who have waited years to afford it.
Here’s what you need to know, and how you can speak out in support of affordable health care.
David King and his fellow plaintiffs attest that they will be “harmed” if the government continues to give middle- and low-income families certain subsidies to help them buy coverage from the federal health insurance Marketplace.
Here’s the background:
To let people sign up for health coverage, the law allows states to either (a) set up their own health insurance marketplace, or (b) choose to have the federal government establish a health insurance marketplace for them.
16 states plus the District of Columbia set up their own health insurance marketplaces.
34 states use a health insurance marketplace that the federal government established for them, and plaintiffs in King want to deny subsidies for health insurance premiums to the people who live in those states.
As the law stands now, middle- and low-income families nationwide can get financial assistance from the federal government to help afford insurance premiums, regardless of whether their state set up a marketplace or the federal government did. Now, the plaintiffs in King are challenging this core part of the health care law — the part that makes critical federal subsidies available nationwide.
Why this matters: These crucial subsidies help 87 percent of families who sign up for health insurance on Healthcare.gov. They also help the ACA do what it was designed to do: make health insurance more affordable and accessible to the entire nation. Denying these subsidies to millions of middle- and low-income people undermines that.
King is leading a small group of aggressive ACA opponents who are simply putting politics ahead of Americans’ health. It’s no wonder they have been hit with press scrutiny. Here’s what one judge who heard their case in a lower court told them: “You are asking us to kick millions of Americans off health insurance just to save four people a few dollars.” That court threw out the case, but the Supreme Court accepted it for review anyway.
Those leading the charge against the ACA seem more concerned with undermining the president than about all of the real people whose lives have been improved by access to health care. But on the other side — the side of Obamacare, and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell — stand a slew of doctors, nurses, hospitals, health care advocates, patients, insurers, and small businesses. They all have weighed in with support of the ACA. (So have we. And you can, too.)
Here’s what we know: A ruling for the challengers in King would cause a lasting health care crisis. Health care premiums will skyrocket. Millions of people who already stretch to make ends meet would lose access to affordable health insurance. To be specific, a whopping 9.3 million Americans across 34 states would be at risk of losing access to health care coverage.
So who are the real people the law would affect most? Women — especially women of color — and families struggling to make ends meet.
Of the 9.3 million people at risk of losing subsidies that helped them afford health care coverage: about one-third are people of color and, of the total, over 4 million are women.
If the Court rules in favor of King, about 1.4 million women of color who are currently enrolled in affordable health care coverage could lose it.
On top of all that, women who are now eligible for health care subsidies (but not enrolled yet) would not be able to access them.
All the women, men and families who would be affected are low- or middle-income who need help paying for the costs of health care coverage.
If the Court rules in favor of King, millions would lose subsidies for health insurance premiums. Insurance premiums would also rise, making health care coverage unaffordable for millions:
Of those who would lose their subsidies, nearly 5 million are low-income who earn less than $24,000 per year.
Meanwhile, insurance premiums are expected to skyrocket by 35 percent (about $1,460 per year).
The loss of subsidies for insurance premiums, PLUS the huge increase in premiums themselves, means these low-income individuals and families likely would not be able to afford health care coverage.
For five years now, Obamacare has provided more and better access to health care across the country. In fact, over 11.4 million people nationwide have health insurance coverage now who didn’t have it before. Families no longer have to choose between going bankrupt and getting treatment for a sick child. Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition. Women can get breast cancer screenings, well-woman exams, and birth control all without copay. And that’s how it should be. Because every woman, man, and child deserves health care. It’s a human right.
But a ruling against the ACA would roll back all this amazing progress.
No matter what the Supreme Court ultimately decides in June, we’re going to fight for affordable health care for all. Right now, it’s up to us to speak out in support of affordable health care access as loud as we can. Here’s how:
Share Your Story: Demonstrate the enormous harm of an adverse decision in this case by sharing your story and how you could be impacted by the decision.
Defending every American’s right to affordable, accessible health care is only possible with your strong commitment.