The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act means that more than 80,000 Oklahomans can continue to receive federal subsidies to help them pay for health insurance.
It will be days, possibly weeks, before the full impact of the ruling is assessed. In this Q&A, Oklahoma Watch addresses some of the immediate issues raised by the ruling.
Q: Does this mean “Obamacare” is still the law of the land in Oklahoma?
A: Yes. The original Affordable Care Act of 2010 already has been modified somewhat by court rulings and legislation. But most of its original provisions remain intact.
Q: How many Oklahomans are affected by today’s ruling?
A: As of March 31, a total of 87,136 Oklahomans were receiving subsidies for individual policies they bought through the “health care marketplace” created by the Affordable Care Act. Tens of thousands more will be affected, too.
Q: How so?
A: Many Oklahomans already qualify to receive Obamacare subsidies but haven’t applied for them yet. Today’s ruling might influence their thinking. Leavitt Partners, a Utah-based consulting firm, estimates that as many as 208,000 Oklahomans will now be able to afford insurance. Leavitt’s estimate includes people expected to join the rolls through next year.
Q: What happens next? What will Oklahoma officials do?
A: Gov. Mary Fallin and U.S. Sen. James Lankford, among others, issued statements expressing disappointment in the ruling. Since this was a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, it’s doubtful they would attempt to defy it or challenge it directly.
Q: What about Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and his lawsuit against the subsidies?
A: Pruitt’s lawsuit was consolidated with challenges by several states and was effectively settled by today’s Supreme Court ruling. Pruitt issued a statement saying the rule of law “took a hit,” but hinted that he’s not done fighting.
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