How Will the Supreme Court Affect the Affordable Care Act?

GW Professor Sara Rosenbaum weighs in on the King v. Burwell decision that is expected in June.

Supreme Court
June 18, 2015

The United States Supreme Court is expected to rule this month in King v. Burwell, a case that challenges the authority of the federal government to provide premium tax subsidies for people who buy Affordable Care Act coverage through the federal exchange.

Currently, 34 states rely on the federal exchange, and their residents will lose their subsidies if the court rules against the Obama administration. That ruling would affect millions of Americans, according to Sara Rosenbaum, a lawyer and professor at the George Washington University.

“Added to the millions who lose their coverage are millions more who in the coming years would need affordable coverage,” said Ms. Rosenbaum, the Harold and Jane Hirsh Professor of Health Law and Policy in the Milken Institute School of Public Health.

The long-term effects, she predicts, could be much worse.

“The other consequence is for the health care system. Hospitals have experienced declines in uncompensated care rates as a result of the Affordable Care Act and people’s access to subsidized insurance. Suddenly, that will go away,” she said. “They could face not only their old uncompensated care, but now a whole bunch of new uncompensated care demands, as people who were under care and now stop getting that care, turn to the hospital for treatment.”

Ms. Rosenbaum is an expert on national health reform and health policy for low-income populations. She sat down with George Washington Today to discuss possible rulings in King v. Burwell, and what those decisions could mean for the future of health care in the United States.

VIDEO: Sara Rosenbaum discusses King v. Burwell SCOTUS case