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ACA ruling: Health benefits hang in balance for millions in state

When the U.S. Supreme Court rules next month on an effort to repeal the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) — a legal challenge brought by conservative state Attorneys General, including Washington’s Rob McKenna — health care benefits for millions of Washingtonians hang in the balance.

A new report issued by state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler explains the health benefits that could vanish if McKenna’s legal challenge is successful, including:

  • A planned expansion of Medicaid that would provide coverage to 328,000 uninsured Washingtonians, starting at 2014.
  • Subsidies, also slated to begin in 2014, that would help another 477,000 uninsured Washingtonians pay for private health insurance.
  • A gradual elimination of the “donut hole” gap in prescription-drug coverage for more than 1 million seniors.

Kreidler’s report, What’s at Stake, includes a county-by-county analysis of the benefits of federal health care reform.

“This report shows the real impacts that overturning the law will have on our neighbors and ourselves,” Kreidler said. “There are real people in our state — millions of them — who will be hurt if the law and its benefits are rolled back.”

For many of the 5.8 million Washingtonians who have health coverage now, a number of ACA-related consumer protections and reforms have already taken effect. These, too, could be erased if the law is overturned. Among them:

  • No lifetime dollar limits for health benefits,
  • No deductibles or co-pays for preventive services,
  • Tax rebates for small businesses, and
  • Expanded coverage for early retirees.

“The health care reform law is not perfect. But history shows that, as a nation, we summon the will to try to reform health care only about once a generation,” said Kreidler. “If we fail again, it’s our children and grandchildren who will be left struggling to pick up the pieces.”

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