Wyoming Awaits Supreme Court Ruling On Subsidies

Jun 11, 2015

Wyoming’s decision to not set up a set health care marketplace could haunt it if the United States Supreme Court rules that federal marketplaces or exchanges cannot receive federal subsidies. The King vs. Burwell case could impact close to 20 thousand Wyoming residents, especially the 17 thousand who would lose subsidies to purchase insurance. 

Wyoming Lawmakers decided that setting up a state-run marketplace would be too costly, so they elected to have the federal government do it for them. If the court rules against the federal marketplace, one idea would be for Wyoming to partner with another state. But State Insurance Commissioner Tom Glause says Wyoming’s high health care costs make it a less than attractive partner.

“We are a large area with few people and with fewer providers, so we don’t have the population centers to spread that risk over. So it doesn’t make sense for other states who may have better risk pooling to bring in Wyoming.”

Glause said if the Supreme Court rules that Wyoming’s approach of using a federal marketplace is not constitutional, he’s hopeful that the court will allow congress and states to fix the problem.

“Whichever way the Supreme Court rules on this we’re certain that there will be guidance in that decision. Assuming that the plaintiffs do prevail the timing in when the subsidies go away will be vitally important as the states tackle this problem.”

Glause is hopeful that the court will allow health insurance subsidies to be used until the end of the year.  State Senator Charles Scott who chairs the Senate Labor, Health, and Social Services Committee said that the state will wait to see what happens with the court decision that could come this month.  Congress is also looking into crafting a solution. 

A ruling could come as early as this month.