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8 reactions to King v. Burwell ruling

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It’s official: PPACA’s subsidies are here to stay.

The Supreme Court ruled 
6-3
 
Thursday that the subsidies are legal on the federal exchange, upholding a major tenet of the health care law that enables millions of Americans to keep the tax subsidies that help them buy and afford health coverage under the law.

The ruling was another major win for the administration, who had repeatedly defended an IRS rule that interpreted the law as allowing subsidies nationwide.

While the administration applauded the decision as a common sense ruling, reactions varied throughout the benefits industry. Here is a sampling of reactions to the King v. Burwell ruling.

Repeal hope is gone.

“This gives the government extreme confidence, in light of the overwhelming majority, to stop delaying other provisions, and perhaps expedite the delay of provisions already in a holding pattern. This will likely dash any hopes of a repeal.”

— David C. Contorno, CEO of Lake Norman Benefits and Benefits Selling’s 2015 Broker of the Year

Photo: Associated Press

Politically charged?

“It doesn’t surprise me the court ruled in favor of the administration, showing they would take a politically liberal stand. As I predicted, the majority of justices are not inclined to upset the apple cart on PPACA.”

— Mark Roberts, a health and accident insurance agent in all 50 states

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Important work ahead

Today’s decision is a victory for consumers who are eligible for tax credits. Now that SCOTUS is clear, we can focus on the important work ahead. There is so much still to be done on educating consumers on how to get affordable coverage, how to understand the coverage options, and simplifying the purchase process. There is still a persistent lack of information out there.

There are a couple of things I think consumers want from their insurer and from agents [in today’s healthcare market]. One is the best value for their money in terms of an insurance plan that is affordable and that has a good network of providers that meets their needs. They also want convenience and simplicity in working with their insurance company; we expect that of healthcare now, just as we expect that from other vendors. The role of brokers is important in being that educational source for consumers. Brokers will continue to ensure that consumers can get access to coverage. So much about insurance is still quite complex, and brokers play an important role.

—Sally Poblete, CEO, Wellthie

Image: Eliza Shirazi of Washington, a “college associate” with Fox Business, runs to report the Supreme Court opinions outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday June 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Focus on quality, cost.

“With the certainty provided by the Supreme Court’s decision, now is the time to focus on what matters most to consumers — ensuring access to affordable coverage and high-quality health care. Health plans will continue to lead in advancing this goal.”

— Dan Durham, Interim CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans

wellness

Challenges remain for employers.

“While this provision of the statute remains intact, other challenges in the ACA remain for employers. SHRM pledges to work with policy makers to address these challenges, including the definition of a full-time employee for coverage mandate, the pending excise tax on high-value health care plans, and employer flexibility in offering wellness programs.” 

— Society for Human Resource Management

Time to move on.

“The ruling was exactly what I expected. It looks like they took a step back and did a common sense read on PPACA instead of a technical read. I know that many brokers continue to pine away for the ‘good ole days’ but we need to move on here and focus on what is important: educating our clients. Onward and upward.”

— Susan Combs, owner and president of brokerage firm Combs & Company
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Help continues for consumers.

“Today’s ruling upholding the federal government’s provision of subsidized exchange coverage in federal as well as state-run exchanges provides security for people across the United States who get their health coverage through an Affordable Care Act exchange-based health plan. The subsidies people have relied on to help them pay for their coverage will continue.

Most people enrolled in state and federally-run exchange plans—including more than 80 percent of Humana members with coverage through an exchange — receive a subsidy. The Supreme Court ruling upholding subsidies means that people who currently receive a subsidy — whether they’re enrolled in coverage through a state-based or federal exchange — will continue to receive the extra help.”

— Humana

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Employee benefits still in ‘constant flux.’

“The Supreme Court ruled today that federal premium subsidies will remain available to eligible individuals who get their health insurance through the federal Marketplace. This decision does not change the way millions of Americans receive and pay for health coverage, yet the world of employee benefits remains in constant flux. For example, many employers still face potentially daunting challenges, including required government reporting and the impact of the upcoming Cadillac tax. Employers should use this opportunity to consult with their benefits advisors about how to protect their businesses — and employees — to strategically position their benefits for the future.”

— Adam Bruckman, President and CEO of Digital Insurance / Digital Benefit Advisors

Photo: Associated Press

See also:

King v. Burwell: The opinion, with interesting parts highlighted

PPACA threatens Roberts’ effort to shield court from politics

View: What was the intent of Obamacare? Just read the law