The U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act's federal subsidies has elected officials in Wisconsin predictably divided along party lines.
The decision allows people to continue receiving federal subsidies for insurance through a federal exchange in states that didn't set up their own state-run exchanges.
In Wisconsin, about 183,000 people have insurance through the federal exchange. More than 90 percent of those people — about 166,000 — help pay their premiums with federal subsidies. They receive, on average $315 per month, and would face a 252 percent increase in the average premium without the subsidies, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Gov. Scott Walker said the ruling means Republicans in Congress must "redouble their efforts to repeal and replace this destructive and costly law." He and other Republicans said the law, often referred to as Obamacare, has negatively impacted the workforce.
"From the beginning, it was clear that Obamacare would fail the American people and this has proven to be true across the country and in Wisconsin," Walker said in a statement. "Workers have lost hours because of new costs faced by their employers, people have lost their insurance and cannot afford the dramatic premium and fee increases, and many can no longer see their preferred doctors. Now, 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."
Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a frequent critic of the law, said the Supreme Court's decision is "incredibly disappointing."
"That decision upholds legislation that was falsely marketed and forced through Congress in a completely partisan fashion and that has harmed millions of Americans," Johnson said in a statement. "The court’s decision cements a system costing millions of Americans the health plans they chose and liked and access to doctors they knew and trusted. The Supreme Court is sustaining higher health care costs for patients and taxpayers, a law that makes it costlier for employers to hire and harder for workers to keep full-time jobs."
Johnson also called for the law to be repealed, arguing that it has "never been accepted by the American people."
U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, a Republican representing the state's 8th Congressional District, called for fixes to the law rather than a full repeal. Ribble said he believes all Americans should have access to "high-quality, affordable health care" but he doesn't think the Affordable Care Act is the right approach.
"I have supported a number of measures that would address what I believe are some of the most damaging parts of the law. These include restoring the workweek to its traditional 40-hour definition, delaying the individual mandate, and repealing the damaging medical device tax," Ribble said in a statement. "Today’s Supreme Court ruling does nothing to change our commitment to securing a healthcare solution that will lower costs, increase the quality of care, and fix this flawed law so that everyone can truly have access to quality care at an affordable price."
Wisconsin Democrats praised the decision, and used it to bolster yet another call for Walker to accept the federal Medicaid expansion.
"The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land," said U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan in a statement. "Now, Gov. Walker must expand Medicaid coverage for Wisconsinites across the state. This would solve his budget problems and save our state $345 million over the next 2 years — ensuring Wisconsin children and families receive the care they need."
Both Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, and Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, said the ruling was a positive step forward, but argued that health care access could be further expanded in Wisconsin by accepting the federal dollars.
"Providing health care access to more people at a lower cost to taxpayers is the right thing to do and it could help Wisconsin invest our tax dollars in our schools and communities," Barca said in a statement. "The people of Wisconsin are tired of legislative Republicans forcing them to take a back seat to Gov. Walker’s political career. It’s time to do the right thing by taking the health care money."
The Wisconsin Hospital Association, Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Health and Wisconsin Association of Health Plans also applauded the decision.
WHA president and CEO Eric Borgerding said if the court had not upheld the subsidies, "the disruption to our health care system and broader insurance markets would have been substantial."