When Gov. Scott Walker was selling his health care plan to the public, part of his pitch involved a piece of the Affordable Care Act that's been jeopardized by a recent federal court ruling.
A court ruled last week that it's illegal for the government to subsidize the insurance people buy through the federal health insurance exchange. The issue is by no means settled; nevertheless, without subsidies, experts say the federal exchange would collapse.
That would be felt especially hard in a state like Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker declined federal money for an expansion of Medicaid to cover more people above the poverty line. When Walker first unveiled his health care plan in early 2013, he said those people would get their coverage from the federal exchange.
“The exchanges under the Affordable Care Act provide a subsidy to make the health care exchange affordable to individuals and families who are a part of that,” said Walker at the time. “So look at that: If you're someone who just creeps over 100 percent of the federal poverty line — which means you move out of that category of poverty — if you're just above that, you're paying about $19 a month as an individual for health care.”
Jon Peacock with the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families said it's ironic that when Walker and other Republicans turned down federal dollars for an expansion of Medicaid, they argued that the funding was unreliable.
“Yet they adopted a more expensive alternative plan, that relies on a different source of federal funding — the marketplace subsidies — and it now appears that those subsidies may be at even greater risk than the Medicaid funding,” said Peacock.
States that set up their own exchanges would be allowed to continue them under this court ruling, though Walker decided not to create a state exchange in Wisconsin. Walker said last week that he was not reconsidering that move, saying a higher court would ultimately resolve this issue.