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Alexander, Cohen Statements on King v. Burwell Oral Arguments

Press release from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; March 4, 2015:

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 4 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate health committee, released the following statement on today’s Supreme Court oral arguments in the King v. Burwell case, which Alexander attended:

“Hopefully the Supreme Court will rule that the law means what it says. If the court does, states will have two options for the 6 million Americans who today receive tax credit subsidies. First, states without exchanges can still create them, but Republicans in Congress will provide a better option. We will act to provide financial assistance those Americans hurt by this as well as offer states more flexibility in offering lower cost insurance policies to their citizens.”

On Monday, Alexander, along with U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch of Utah (chairman of the Senate Finance Committee) and John Barrasso of Wyoming (chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee) published an op-ed in the Washington Post about what Congress should do if the Court decides against the president in this case.

Press release from U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. 09; March 4, 2015:

As the United States Supreme Court hears oral arguments in King v. Burwell, the case regarding the legality of tax subsidies going to consumers of health insurance purchased through the federal health care marketplace, Tennesseans should be made aware of what is actually at stake in this lawsuit.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 187,856 Tennesseans currently receive monthly pro-rated tax subsidies to help them afford insurance coverage purchased through the federally-run marketplace. Nationwide, these subsidies average $268 per person, per month. In the event that the Court rules in favor of the Burwell plaintiffs (a ruling that would directly contradict Congressional intent as it has been clearly and explicitly expressed by the law’s authors) 187,856 Tennessee citizens would immediately lose these subsidies, effectively causing their monthly insurance premiums to skyrocket by hundreds of dollars each month and making health coverage unaffordable for many, if not all.

Estimates from the Urban Institute indicate that, despite years of the number of uninsured Americans falling because of the President Affordable Care Act, the United States uninsured rate would jump by 30%, disproportionately in the South, should the Court rule in favor of the plaintiffs. This is an unacceptable outcome, and it would throw our state’s—and our nation’s—health insurance systems into chaos while measurably and significantly harming the health of our citizens.

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Kelsey Files Bill to Block TN From ‘Operating Any Obamacare Exchanges’

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; January 15, 2015:

(NASHVILLE), January 15, 2015 – Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and Representative Jeremy Durham (R-Franklin) today filed legislation that would prevent individuals and businesses in Tennessee from being assessed fees under Obamacare if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs in the case of King v. Burwell.  The Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments on the case in March which, in effect, challenges the administration’s regulations on citizens in states which did not set up state healthcare exchanges in conjunction with the federal act.

“This bill will stop the IRS from penalizing Tennesseans for not signing up for Obamacare,” said Senator Kelsey.  “It also prevents Tennessee from operating any Obamacare exchanges in the future.”

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim that the section of the law authorizing the government to distribute tax credits and assess penalties applies only when states choose to run their healthcare exchanges.  The law does not explicitly state that the tax credits and penalties apply when the federal government runs the exchange.  Tennessee is one of the 25 states that have chosen to force the federal government to run its exchange.  Senate bill 72 would prohibit Tennessee from running the exchange in the future if the plaintiffs receive a favorable ruling the case.  A decision on the case is expected by in June after the Tennessee General Assembly has adjourned.

“The Supreme Court could overturn half of Obamacare, and this bill will prepare our citizens for that,” Durham concluded.

A draft of the bill is available at: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/109/Bill/SB0072.pdf