The Supreme Court recently heard an oral argument in a landmark case whose outcome threatens to take away the health coverage of millions of Americans, myself included. The case of King v. Burwell challenges specific wording in the health care law that states that subsidies to cover healthcare costs can only be given in states that have developed state-based marketplaces. This means that residents of the 34 states including Florida that use a federally facilitated marketplace could lose the subsidies and tax credits that make their coverage affordable.
There are many benefits to owning my own business, but being able to take advantage of group insurance rates is not one of them. My insurance costs had risen to the point that I could barely afford the premiums and I was considering canceling my plan and going without insurance. Being able to access insurance through the Marketplace saved me hundreds of dollars and allowed me to obtain insurance for myself and my children at a rate I could afford. Without the insurance I obtained through the ACA I would have been left without coverage and hoping I didn’t get sick or injured.
The Affordable Care Act didn’t just make insurance affordable for me and my family, it also makes it possible for small businesses like mine to offer their employees coverage. Tax credits in place offset some of the cost associated with the employees plans and help me ensure that my employees are healthy and covered in case of an emergency. Opponents of the Affordable Care Act, like the ones leading the charge in this court case, don’t know what it’s like to run a small business and depend on valuable tax credits to keep their families healthy.
This is not the first time the healthcare law has been attacked, and if the law is upheld, it won’t be the last. It is an unfortunate reality that a law that helps so many people like me isn’t popular with some politicians and big business interests. Florida’s governor has been vocal about his opposition to the law and the state has gone as far as to deny federal funding to expand Medicaid, a key element in the healthcare law. Medicaid is in place for people who make too little to afford health care from the marketplace and the federal government is offering to give our hard earned tax money back to our state to provide coverage for people living at or near the poverty line.
More than 8 million people nationally would lose their insurance subsidies if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the opponents, and more than 1 million Floridians left in the coverage gap would remain without coverage. This might be what some of our representatives at the Capital want to see happen, but small business owners like me are depending on the Supreme Court to make a common sense decision and uphold the law.
Orlando Vazquez, Owner of Phaze One Skate Shop in Tallahassee, FL and member of the Main Street Alliance of Florida. Column courtesy of Context Florida.