* Illinois Issues…
Dueling court rulings handed down today put the future of a key piece of Obamacare into question, but for now, nothing will change about the way the law is implemented in Illinois.
A three judge panel in Washington D.C. ruled this morning that under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, federal subsidies to bring down the cost of insurance should only be available to residents of states that operate their own online insurance exchange. Under the decisions, Illinois and 35 other states would lose the subsidies. Illinois partnered with the feds on Getcoveredillinois.gov, but the website still relies on the federal exchange to sign patients up for coverage.
Just hours after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit weighed in, The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia issued a diverging opinion on a similar case. That panel of judges said that the wording of the law was unclear, but the majority agreed that the law allows for the subsidies to be dispersed through the federal exchange.
In Illinois, 217,000 people obtained insurance through the exchange. More than three quarters of those qualified for a subsidy. Health officials in Illinois say that those approximately 168,000 will not lose their subsides as an immediate result of the rulings. “We are monitoring today’s appeals court decisions in which two courts have rendered differing rulings. The bottom line for now is that nothing has changed, and the subsidies created under the law to help people cover the cost of their health care remain in effect. Get Covered Illinois is focused on preparing for the enrollment period for year two that will start this fall,” Jennifer Koehler, executive director of Get Covered Illinois, said in a written statement.
Nearly two-thirds of those who signed up for coverage on the federal marketplace were able to pay $100 or less per month on insurance premiums, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data. The average monthly subsidy for those who qualified for tax credits was $264, government data shows.
In Illinois, the average enrollee received a $202 tax credit, lowering their monthly premium from an average price of $316 to an average of $114, according to government data. […]
Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, said there “is no consensus in terms of a plan going forward” for an Illinois-run exchange.
He and John Patterson, the communications director for Senate President John Cullerton, said the two offices will continue to monitor the court cases as litigation continues.
State Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, said the rulings could inject new urgency into legislative efforts by her and others to create a state-based exchange for Illinois.
“There’s a more compelling reason to look at it,” she said, adding that she is considering calling for a vote on her proposal in the fall veto session, which begins Nov. 11.
Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said a lack of consensus on the matter in the Democratic-controlled Illinois General Assembly has prevented a state exchange from moving forward.
He said he doesn’t know whether Tuesday’s rulings will change any minds.
“It seems like there’s a ways to go in the court process,” Brown said. “Time will tell.”
That’s the power of the insurance lobby in Illinois, for you.