Tags: Healthcare Reform | Supreme Court | Obamacare subsidies

Most Enrollees Affected If High Court Guts Obamacare Subsidies

By    |   Wednesday, 31 December 2014 12:24 PM

New government figures of Americans on Obamacare with taxpayer subsidies underscores the risk in the latest challenge to the healthcare law pending before the Supreme Court.

About 87 percent of Americans who signed up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act by Dec. 15 qualify for a federal subsidy, the government reported this week. The Department of Health and Human Services found that more than four million people selected plans under the Obamacare law for the first time. That figure does not include the millions who had insurance in 2014 and were automatically renewed into plans for 2015, the department said.

"We’re pleased that nationwide, millions of people signed up for Marketplace coverage starting January 1. The vast majority were able to lower their costs even further by getting tax credits, making a difference in the bottom lines of so many families," said Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell.

But a lawsuit the Supreme Court has scheduled to hear March 4 poses a critical challenge to the law that could gut the federal subsidies for most Americans in the plan.

The case comes as more requirements are kicking in for the highly bureaucratic healthcare law. Beginning Thursday, the government will require small businesses with at least 100 full-time employees to provide government-approved healthcare plans.

The Obama administration, which claimed the healthcare plan would greatly reduce premiums, suffered a year-end embarrassment when another video of Jonathan Gruber, the architect of Obamacare, surfaced with him admitting in 2009 that the plan would be unaffordable for most Americans, The Daily Caller reported Tuesday.

In the new Supreme Court case, the plaintiffs in King versus Burwell claim the Obama administration is illegally providing federal subsidies to people in 37 U.S. states that refused to establish state-run insurance marketplaces, as outlined in the 2010 healthcare law. The administration ignored the law by allowing the federal government to provide subsidies in those states, instead, the plaintiffs claim.

Without the subsidies, Obamacare premiums would be too expensive for most people on the plan. An insured worker making $30,000, for example, received a $1,000 monthly subsidy in 2014.

The New Year will also see the Internal Revenue Service impose fines on people who continue to have no health insurance that meets Obamacare requirements.

That so-called individual mandate combined with the new employer-mandate are two elements that continue to make the law unpopular. Fifty-six percent of Americans opposed the law in a Gallup poll taken in November, as the government launched an open enrollment for Obamacare.

Premiums are also up an average of 49 percent, according to an exhaustive study of more than 3,000 U.S. counties by Forbes and the Manhattan Institute.

The opposition helped Republicans gain control of both houses of Congress.

"There's no candy coating the truth: Obamacare has had a very terrible, horrible, crappy, none-too-happy year," wrote conservative columnist Michelle Malkin.

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New government figures on Americans on Obamacare with taxpayer subsidies underscores the risk in the latest challenge to the healthcare law pending before the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court, Obamacare subsidies
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2014-24-31
Wednesday, 31 December 2014 12:24 PM
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