Catholic Health Association to Supreme Court: Working Families in Every State Should be Eligible for Subsidies

View the friend-of-the-court (amicus) brief
Watch the video of Sr. Carol Keehan's presentation during the Jan. 28 press conference 

WASHINGTON, DC (January 28, 2015)
– The Catholic Health Association has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of King v. Burwell to help defend the Affordable Care Act from a tenuous legal challenge that needlessly threatens the law’s foundation and health care coverage for working families.

For decades CHA supported passage of a law that would dramatically expand health insurance coverage. Having worked to secure and improve the Affordable Care Act, CHA and its members have been pleased with the results of the ACA so far: more than 20 million people who were previously uninsured now have meaningful, affordable coverage, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. Much of that coverage increase is due to subsidies that help individuals and families pay their insurance premiums.

Millions of these Americans and their families are now in danger of losing their new coverage simply because of the state in which they live. If the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell are successful, people receiving subsidies in states with a federal marketplace will no longer be eligible, even though the law’s framers clearly did not intend to treat people differently depending on their state of residence.

With the Affordable Care Act, “our nation took a giant step forward. And now if this case is decided wrongly, we’ll take a giant step back,” said Sister Carol Keehan, CHA’s president and chief executive officer, in a statement she delivered via video at a Capitol Hill press conference this morning.

Sister Carol continued: “It is profoundly disruptive when people who have health care coverage lose it. Think about the mother in the middle of her pregnancy. Think about the family who has a child with cancer, and they’re in the middle of treatment. Think about these kinds of consequences. These are the lives of real people.”

According to CHA’s friend-of-the-court brief, to revoke the subsidies that make coverage possible for so many people would be a complete misinterpretation of the law. “A statute’s text must be considered not in a vacuum, but with reference to the statutory context, structure, history, and purpose,” the CHA legal brief argues. “The subsidies under the ACA are integral to the law’s effectiveness and designed to help the most vulnerable in our society obtain health insurance.”

Sister Carol added: “Nearly 10 million people who now have insurance coverage would lose it if the subsidies issue gets decided the wrong way. That is an incredible cruelty for people who waited so long for coverage, only to have it yanked out from under them because of where they live. And it will have profound consequences on their health and on the health of their community.”

CHA’s friend-of-the-court brief also maintains that repealing the subsidies would detrimentally affect health care providers and communities, as well as bring uncertainty and confusion to the health care system overall.

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The Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA), founded in 1915, supports the Catholic health ministry’s commitment to improve the health status of communities and create quality and compassionate health care that works for everyone. The Catholic health ministry is the nation's largest group of not-for-profit health systems and facilities that, along with their sponsoring organizations, employ more than 750,000 women and men who deliver services combining advanced technology with the Catholic caring tradition. 


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