Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said the Obama administration has “the right position” in the King v. Burwell case that will reach the Supreme Court on March 4, predicting that HHS “will prevail.”
The challengers argue that the federal government cannot issue taxpayer funded subsides to individuals in states that have not established insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. To date, 14 states have their own exchanges.
“We believe our position is the position that is correct and accurate. When I travel to states, when I am in – one is in New York and one is in Florida – the idea that the Congress intended for the people of New York to receive these benefits for affordable care but not necessarily the people of Florida, I think we believe we have the right position and that is what we’re doing,” Burwell said on Tuesday when announcing the latest Obamacare enrollment figures.
Burwell was repeatedly asked if HHS is making changes in the event the Supreme Court rules against the federal government.
“What we’re doing right now is, as I said, focused deeply on what is in front of us right now and that is the open enrollment period, and focused on that as well as the Medicaid expansion and the other issues because we believe we are in a place where our argument and our position will prevail,” she said in response.
“Anyone can create any kind of hypothetical in life, in policy and in anything,” she added.
Burwell announced that approximately 3.4 million users selected plans on the Obamacare federal health insurance marketplace through Dec. 15. In total, 1.8 million renewed their coverage and 1.6 million signed up for the first time. Through Dec. 19, nearly 6.4 million consumers selected a plan or were automatically re-enrolled in their current plan or one with similar benefits.
“While we have more to do we’re moving in the right direction. Working together, we’re expanding access. We’re delivering affordable choices to consumers,” Burwell said.
“The numbers and the stories show that this law is working and families and businesses and taxpayers are better off as a result, and that’s really what it’s all about,” she added.
The open enrollment period concludes on Feb. 15. Burwell said HHS wants to make sure people are getting the financial assistance they “need and deserve.”
“We emphasized very strongly, and tried to communicate with people in a very strong way, about coming in and so most people received anywhere from 3-10 touches depending on where you were, what you were doing, what access we had, so we were deeply focused on that,” she said.