MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democrats and advocates for the poor in Wisconsin cheered the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday to uphold subsidies under President Barack Obama’s federal health care overhaul, while Republicans renewed their calls to repeal the 2010 law.
The ruling means no change for the roughly 183,000 people in Wisconsin who purchase insurance through the federal marketplace. About 90 percent of them receive the subsidies — averaging about $315 a month — that were upheld.
Advocates feared that an adverse ruling would have resulted in thousands of poor people no longer being able to afford insurance. Opponents of the law hoped a ruling striking down the subsidies would have led to an outright repeal or significant rewrite of Obama’s signature health care law.
Marin LaMartina, a 34-year-old AmeriCorps worker living in Madison, said she was thrilled with the ruling.
“I feel like I’ve been so personally impacted by this,” said LaMartina, who bought insurance through the exchange after previously being denied coverage because of a pre-existing heart condition. She gets $215 a month in subsidies under the law.
“The decision’s a huge relief because Wisconsin is very dependent upon the federal marketplace and it’s making a significant dent in the number of uninsured people in the state,” said Jon Peacock, research director for Wisconsin Children and Families.
Sara Finger, executive director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, called it “a tremendous victory for all of us.”
“We are thrilled that women and their families in Wisconsin will continue to have access to subsidies to make health insurance more affordable and accessible,” she said.
Gov. Scott Walker’s reaction to the ruling was infused with campaign rhetoric. The longtime opponent of the law called once again for its repeal on Thursday.
“Instead of just finger-pointing from the president for why his law is failing, we need real leadership in Washington, and Congress needs to repeal and replace ObamaCare,” Walker said in a statement issued through his testing-the-presidential-waters committee. He is expected to officially launch his presidential campaign next month.
Another opponent of the law, Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, decried the ruling as “incredibly disappointing.” He is being challenged for re-election next year by former Democratic U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, a backer of the law who called the lawsuit at issue in the Supreme Court’s ruling “partisan and unnecessary.”
Meanwhile, Democratic state office holders used the ruling to repeat their ongoing call for Walker to accept federal money to expand Medicaid coverage to those earning up to 138 percent of poverty.
Walker in 2013 rejected the money and lowered income eligibility to those below the federal poverty line, but also expanded coverage to childless adults who were previously on a waiting list. Walker promised then that his moves would result in the state’s uninsured rate being cut in half.
Data released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the uninsured rate for those under age 64 in Wisconsin dropped from 9.4 percent in 2013 to 7.5 percent in 2014. That equates to about 92,000 fewer people without insurance, leaving roughly 420,000 people uncovered, based on an analysis of the data by Wisconsin Children and Families.
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