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WI Official: SCOTUS Case Does Not Stop ACA Enrollment

iStock/Wisconsin News Connection

Arguments begin before the U.S. Supreme Court today in the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act. Wisconsin officials hope those in need of health coverage don't shy away from enrolling simply because the case is being considered.

It's the third time the nation's highest court has been asked to review the law, which was enacted a decade ago. The latest challenge comes in the middle of open enrollment for federal and state marketplaces.

Nathan Houdek is Wisconsin's deputy commissioner of insurance. He noted most legal observers predict a final decision next spring or summer, meaning during the crisis, many people who are struggling still will need help.

"It's important that people do sign up for coverage again so they have coverage starting Jan. 1, because regardless of what the court is gonna do, people can't wait around to see what's gonna happen," Houdek said.

The department says for 2021, rates on the individual market will be more than 3% lower on average. Opponents of the law have said it's unconstitutional to have Congress require people to have health insurance.

Meanwhile, a new report from Wisconsin's Kids Forward group says ACA enrollment in the state has declined under the Trump administration and its attempts to undermine the law. That report says Wisconsin's annual enrollment total has gone down by nearly 50,000 since 2017.

Still, Houdek said, despite repeated legal and legislative attempts to repeal it, the law largely has stood intact and become fully integrated into the nation's health care system.

"Because it has been in place for 10 years, people, I think, sometimes forget what the health marketplace looked like prior to the ACA," he said.

He said before the law was enacted, more than half-a-million Wisconsin residents lacked coverage. That number has been reduced by more than 200,000 over the past decade. He said it's not just enrollment - components such as protections for pre-existing conditions have been beneficial.

Supporters of the law worry the latest challenge might be successful because the court has become more conservative-leaning with the addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett this fall.

Mike Moen is the Morning Edition producer and serves as a staff reporter for WNIJ. Every morning, he works with Dan Klefstad to bring listeners the latest Illinois news. He also works with the rest of the news staff on developing and producing in-depth stories. Mike is a Minnesota native who likes movies, history, and baseball. When most people hear his last name, they assume he is 100-percent Scandinavian. But, believe it or not, he is mostly German.
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