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U.S. Supreme Court Case Could Impact Utah Health Care

PHOTO: The U.S. Supreme Court hears the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday. At stake is whether millions of Americans, including thousands of Utahns, will still be able to receive federal subsidies to help with their health insurance costs. Photo courtesy U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs.
PHOTO: The U.S. Supreme Court hears the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday. At stake is whether millions of Americans, including thousands of Utahns, will still be able to receive federal subsidies to help with their health insurance costs. Photo courtesy U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs.
March 3, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY - A U.S. Supreme Court hearing Wednesday could have serious implications for thousands of Utahns receiving subsidies through the Affordable Care Act.

In King v. Burwell, justices will decide whether federal health insurance subsidies in states using the federal exchange, like Utah, are illegal.

Sue Morano, an Intensive Care Unit nurse, says the case threatens the health and financial security of millions of workers. She adds it would turn back the gains nurses and doctors have made in improving the delivery of care for patients.

"The healthcare law has helped so many people in ways they don't even realize," says Morano. "With the focus on preventative care, it's quite life-saving, and it means my patients are living healthier lives."

The plaintiffs argue federal subsidies should only be allowed in states that have established their own health insurance exchanges. It's estimated about 80 percent of Utahns using the federal exchange are receiving subsidies to help cover the cost.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports during the most recent open enrollment period, just over 140,000 Utah residents enrolled or re-enrolled in health plans. Morano says the law is saving money and improving the quality of care.

"It means certain diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and breathing problems like asthma are being treated in the primary care setting rather than in our emergency room," she says.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case sometime before June.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT