For Immediate Release - January 29, 2015

AG Healey Files Brief with Supreme Court in Support of Premium Assistance Under National Health Care Law

AG Joins Multistate Effort in Defense of Nationwide Access to Tax Credits When Purchasing Health Insurance Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Case Threatens Stability of Health Insurance Market Throughout the United States

BOSTON – Defending the right of millions of Americans to access premium-assistance tax credits under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) when purchasing health insurance through the federal government, Attorney General Maura Healey joined a coalition of states in filing a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court. The states argue that the denial of tax credits would disrupt insurance markets throughout the United States.

AG Healey joined the amicus brief, led by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, along with 20 states and the District of Columbia, which was submitted in the case of King v. Burwell. Unlike Massachusetts, which has established its own state-run enrollment website where individuals can buy subsidized health plans, 34 states do not have their own health insurance exchanges, instead relying on the federal government to set up “federally-facilitated exchanges” (FFEs) on their behalf.

“This case threatens the ability of the ACA to operate as a comprehensive nationwide program, as millions of low and moderate income Americans rely on these tax credits to purchase health insurance,” AG Healey said. “In Massachusetts, we have experienced the many benefits of increasing access to quality, affordable health care. We urge the Supreme Court to maintain this access for every state by upholding the availability of these critical tax credits.”

The plaintiffs in King v. Burwell claim that residents of FFE states are not entitled to receive tax credits from the Internal Revenue Service to help them pay premiums. In the brief, the attorneys general argue that every state in the country, including Massachusetts, will be affected by the outcome of this litigation, which aims to deprive FFE states of billions of dollars in federal premium assistance essential to buy health insurance. Making health insurance less affordable or attainable for residents in certain states would disrupt insurance markets nationwide, affect enrollment, and drive up premiums throughout the country, the attorneys general explain.

According to the brief, a recent study by researchers at the Urban Institute predicts that the elimination of premium-assistance tax credits in the 34 FFE states would deprive more than 9.3 million people of almost $29 billion in subsidies – an average of $3,090 per eligible person – and increase the number of uninsured by about 8.2 million people.

King v. Burwell is scheduled for argument on March 4, 2015 before the U.S. Supreme Court. In July 2014, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled unanimously in this case that customers of a federally-facilitated exchange were eligible for financial assistance.

The other states that joined Massachusetts in filing the amicus brief, led by Virginia, include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.