In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Pennsylvania Rolls Out Back-up Plan In Case SCOTUS Rules Against Obamacare

AP Photo / Matt Rourke

In the Supreme Court case, the challengers contend that federal subsidies for health insurance in the 37 states where the federal government runs the health care marketplaces are invalid because of a few words in the law that say the subsidies are available for participants in exchanges "established by the State." If the Supreme Court rules in the challengers' favor, some 6.4 million Americans -- including an estimated 382,000 Pennsylvanians -- who are participating in federally-run exchanges are expected to lose their subsidies, potentially wreaking havoc on the entire private health insurance system.

Only 13 states and the District of Columbia have set up their own exchanges, with resistance largely stemming from Republican objections to the law. While some states have quietly discussed what to do in the event that the Supreme Court strikes down the federal subsidies, Pennsylvania is the first state to publicly announce its plan to apply to take over its exchanges, according to the Hill. Wolf had previously sent a letter to the federal Department of Health and Human Services suggesting he would be pursuing that option.

The governor said in Tuesday's statement that the application for the state to set up its own marketplace does not necessarily mean it will do so.

“However, the responsible thing to do is set up a plan to protect hundreds of thousands of people and I look forward to working with members of the legislature to advance this plan if necessary,” Wolf said.

Teresa Miller, the Pennsylvania’s acting insurance commissioner, told the Associated Press that there were other reasons, aside from the Supreme Court case, for the state to consider running its own marketplace in the place of the federal “one-size-fits-all” exchange. She said if the state got federal approval, it could have its own exchange up and running within weeks or a few months, well before the fall’s enrollment period.

The federal government could still shoulder some of the responsibilities, according to the AP report, but if it did, it is unclear whether Pennsylvania would still be protected from the potential effect of the Supreme Court's ruling in King v. Burwell.

About The Author


Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.