King v. Burwell will define healthcare politics in 2015

Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman reviews both sides of the case

The Supreme Court's decision in the King v. Burwell case will define the path for healthcare politics in 2015 and beyond, Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

On March 4, the Supreme Court will hear the King v. Burwell case, which challenges the legality of Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies for insurance plans purchased on the federal marketplace. A decision is expected in June.

A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs will deny subsidies to millions of Americans who used to purchase subsidized health insurance. On top of that, Altman said, it will "reignite" the partisan debate over the ACA.

But Altman suggested that the President Barack Obama's administration and the Department of Health and Human Services can make a good case.

After a rough 2013, is working, while increases in ACA premiums have been modest. In addition, though Republicans plan to try to repeal the healthcare reform law in the legislative session that began yesterday, President Obama maintains veto power over the Republican-controlled Congress.

Pure politics may also come into play, Altman said. Much of the GOP's "anti-ACA fervor" has been pointed directly at the President--hence the term Obamacare--and not at the law itself. After all, many typically conservative states are now considering Medicaid expansion, as FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

With the president focusing his attention on other issues, and with more than 14 million Americans gaining health insurance through the ACA, this fervor should die down, Altman said. Whether it will affect the King v. Burwell decision remains to be seen.

For more:
- here's the Wall Street Journal article

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