Everyone is watching the King v. Burwell case, a case that calls into question the legality of the subsidies on the federal exchange. (A ruling is expected by the end of June.)
And the benefits industry is no exception. We asked a handful of benefits experts what they predicted as the ruling outcome — and how that would affect both the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the industry in general.
Here’s what they said.
1. It’s irrelevant.
“The outcome is irrelevant. If they uphold the law and say subsides are eligible in all exchanges, then all is as it is. But let’s say they claim it needs to be in state exchanges only — then I believe there will be a transitional period for states to get it running, and most states will likely opt for a partnership exchange, or the justices will find a way to interpret the law that finds for the plaintiffs but allows the subsidies to continue.
So, my belief is that regardless of outcomes, subsidies will be uninterrupted one way or the other.”
—David C. Contorno, CEO of Lake Norman Benefits and Benefits Selling’s 2015 Broker of the Year
2. The government will prevail.
“I’m confident the government will prevail here as I just cannot see subsidies, and potentially health insurance for those in jeopardy of losing these subsidies in the federal exchange, being taken away over what I see as an obvious language/drafting error in the law.”
—Mark Parabicoli, Managing Director, Exchanges & Emerging Distribution at ARAG Legal
3. It will be business as usual.
“I really feel at this point there will be ongoing reform but not repeal. When you look at this case, it hinges on 4 words: “established by the state.” As with many things in this bill, when you isolate a section, it loses context.
I think at the end of the day, when you take a step back and do a common sense read on PPACA instead of a technical read, we all understand that the primary goal of PPACA was to expand health insurance coverage as much as possible. A major component of this was to try and do so as equally as possible across the country, while giving states as much flexibility as possible to get it done.
My gut says that it will be business as usual for us and it will be on to the next Monday Morning Quarterback.”
—Susan Combs, owner and president of brokerage firm Combs & Company
4. Subsidies should be gutted, but they won’t be.
“The current SCOTUS justices are reticent to overturn any legislation passed by elected officials, even if the law beats up the U.S. Constitution. In the case of King vs. Burwell, those who brought the case forward against the government have a legitimate legal case. Unfortunately, the collective immediate economic damage that would take place with the insureds and the respective participating carriers would be too great for those stakeholders to absorb to make it worth the effort to dismantle PPACA.