News Local/State

Pending Supreme Court Decision Creates Health Insurance Uncertainty

 Champaign County Health Care Consumers Executive Director, Claudia Lennhoff

Champaign County Health Care Consumers Executive Director, Claudia Lennhoff Jim Meadows/WILL

More than 200,000 Illinois residents await a decision about the future of their health insurance subsidies, as the US Supreme Court is expected to rule in the King v. Burwell case this month.  Illinois Public Media's Brian Moline spoke with Claudia Lennhoff, Executive Director of Champaign County Healthcare Consumers, about what could happen if the high court strikes down those tax credits.

According to Lennhoff, losing those subsidies would have a real financial impact and make it difficult for many of those signed up through the federal exhange to afford health insurance.

"The average subsidy is about $211 a month," she said. "That would go away, and that would make the cost of health insurance through the marketplace much more expensive, and probably unaffordable for a lot of people."

Lennhoff says the state would have some options to restore those tax credits, outside of creating its own state healthcare exchange.

"One possibility that the Illinois Hospital Association has been talking about is the state leasing the federal exchange.  By leasing it, they would have, in effect, their own exchange."

She says that would be a much easier option for Illinois than creating its own exchange.

"It would be a lot of work.  We would actually have to pass a law that states that we would fully operate our own exchange, and then building the infrastructure for it."

Lennhoff adds that the US Congress could also pass legislation that would restore the tax credits to everyone enrolled in the federal exchanges.

"If the Supreme Court finds that the words in the law are problematic, and those words can be changed by an act of Congress, it may be that people actually see no interruption in their ability to receive subsidies."