States secretly met to talk ObamaCare contingency plans

States secretly met to talk ObamaCare contingency plans
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More than a dozen states quietly met last month to discuss contingency plans for the looming Supreme Court case involving billions of dollars in ObamaCare subsidies.

The meeting was coordinated and funded by a state health policy group called the Milbank Memorial Fund at the request of several states that would be directly impacted by a ruling in King v. Burwell, its president said.

Conversations focused on states that have established their own exchanges with the help of the federal government, such as Idaho and Maryland.

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“A few states called up and said, we’d like to learn what the different options are,” Chris Koller, the president of Milbank Memorial Fund, said Tuesday.

Koller said he can’t confirm which states participated, but added, “What I can say is that they were learning from four ‘faculty’ states about different options for state-based exchanges.”

A total of 37 states have their subsidies at stake in the King v. Burwell case, and many have been anxiously trying to create a backup plan in case they have to leave the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov.

Officials from “16 or 17 states” attended the meeting early last month, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the meeting.

Most Republican state leaders – who have backed the court case – have avoided talking about how they would respond to a decision against the Obama administration. Behind the scenes, however, some are anxiously contacting states that run their own exchanges.

“In the last seven business days, I’ve probably had seven to 10 states contact me about contingency plans,” Jim Wadleigh, the director of Connecticut’s exchange, told The Hill last month.

The court’s ruling could come as early as next Monday, though it is widely expected to be handed down in late June.

The Obama administration has repeatedly declined to say how it would help states if the subsidies are struck down.

Aaron Albright, spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), declined to say whether federal officials were aware of the meeting.

He also declined to answer questions about how CMS has communicated with states, if at all, about how they could set up their own exchanges.

The response has angered Republicans in Congress, some of whom have accused the administration of secretly preparing a plan but refusing to discuss it.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Friday warned that Republicans will not be able to prevent the “significant turmoil” that he said would result from a court ruling against the administration.

“There’s no easy fix to doing that, particularly when you consider how difficult it has been for common-sense pieces of legislation to move through the Congress,” he said.

--This report was updated at 12:12 p.m.