Court rulings add urgency to state exchange decisions

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As states ready their health insurance exchanges for a second open enrollment season in November, many have more to worry about than the computer glitches that plagued them last year.

Last month’s federal appeals court ruling that said language in the Affordable Care Act allows only state-run exchanges to give consumers tax credits to help pay for policy premiums is spurring several states to solidify their state-based credentials.“Until now, it was inconsequential what you were called,” said Larry Levitt, vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“All of a sudden, it may matter.”Only the District of Columbia and 14 states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington — have established state exchanges and are on firm legal ground, according the decision,

Halbig v. Burwell.Consumers in the remaining 36 states that use the federal exchange ultimately could be blocked from future premium subsidies if the U.S. Supreme Court sides with Obamacare opponents.

At stake is discounted insurance coverage for more than 7 million people and access to federal subsidies amounting to $36 billion in 2016, according to a study by the Urban Institute.

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