Gov. Tom Wolf Friday outlined a contingency plan to protect 382,000 Pennsylvanians from losing subsidies that help them afford health insurance coverage.
Gov. Wolf sent a letter to the federal Department of Health and Human Services declaring Pennsylvania’s intent to implement a State-based Marketplace for Pennsylvanians to shop for health insurance coverage in the event the United States Supreme Court rules that people are not eligible for subsidies to help them afford health coverage in states where the federal government runs the health insurance marketplaces.
“In order to protect 382,000 Pennsylvanians from potentially losing subsidies that help them afford health care coverage, I have written to the federal government outlining a contingency plan to set up a state-based marketplace to ensure no one loses their health coverage,” said Gov. Wolf. This is the first step in protecting hardworking Pennsylvanians from losing the assistance they rely on to purchase health care coverage in the event the Supreme Court rules that in states where the federal government runs the marketplace people are not eligible for subsidies. My letter does not mean that Pennsylvania must set up a state-based marketplace. However, it would be irresponsible not to have a plan in place to protect 382,000 people. I look forward to working with members of the legislature to advance this plan if necessary.”
Gov. Wolf’s letter to the Department of Health and Human Services does not mean that Pennsylvania has to set up a state-based marketplace. The governor’s letter also does not mean that Pennsylvania must submit an application, nor does it mean that the state will be transitioning to a state-based marketplace. This simply leaves the door open so the state has this option in the event of an adverse Supreme Court ruling.
Gov. Wolf’s action comes as the Supreme Court is expected to rule in late June on King v. Burwell, a lawsuit arguing that people in states where the federal government runs the health insurance marketplaces are not eligible for subsidies to help them afford coverage.
In Pennsylvania, about 382,000 people are receiving subsidies in 2015, and the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 736,000 people could be enrolled in subsidized coverage in 2016.A copy of the letter is available online.