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Top policy group: SCOTUS move puts healthcare at stake

One of the country’s leading healthcare policy groups is raising alarms about the Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling on ObamaCare, warning that it could cut off subsidies for 13 million people and ultimately unravel the law.

Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, is warning that if the court rules against ObamaCare, so many people could drop their coverage that it could destabilize the whole insurance market.

“If that happened, the resulting firestorm would likely precipitate a political crisis forcing a negotiation between Democrats and Republicans in Congress to address the problem and potentially opening up discussion of other elements of the ACA [Affordable Care Act] in the process,” Altman wrote in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal.

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The Supreme Court will decide next year whether people in 32 states are eligible to receive help from the federal government to pay for their health insurance plans. The highly partisan case, King v. Burwell, has been largely dismissed by Democrats, who say the GOP’s argument stems from a legislative language flaw and not a problem with the policy.

“Whatever the merits of the legal arguments, the consequences are significant,” Altman wrote.

The nonprofit also published a report Wednesday that offers a state-by-state analysis of people in each state who would lose tax subsidies — a total of 13.4 million.

Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia and Pennsylvania would be most affected by the ruling. Half the people who would lose coverage are inhabitants of those states.

The Kaiser Family Foundation is the latest public policy group to speak out against the Supreme Court’s decision to review the case.

That move — announced just days before the second year of open enrollment began — surprised many in the field of healthcare, who felt ObamaCare was secure after surviving an earlier challenge by the court.  

Without subsidies, analysts have predicted a massive rise in premium costs that would likely leave only the very sick in the markets. As a result, many insurers would likely leave the government exchanges as well, possibly collapsing the marketplace.

Altman predicted that several states would likely try to build their own exchanges so that they can continue to receive the tax credit, but he described the process as a “scramble.”

He pointed to the series of difficult obstacles that ObamaCare has overcome since its passage, from a government shutdown to the now-infamous crash of HealthCare.gov.