Whether the Supreme Court uses King v. Burwell to overturn the Affordable Care Act’s premium tax credits for South Dakotans (which decision Senator John Thune is hoping for) or whether Senator Thune simply passes his House GOP colleagues’ umpteenth plan to repeal the ACA (while ignoring the budgetary damage that would ensue), ending the ACA premium tax credits would be bad for South Dakota’s rural hospitals:
If the plaintiffs prevail, an estimated 5.6 million people will lose their tax credits next year in the 15 HealthCare.gov states where Hospital Corporation of America has facilities, according to the Urban Institute, a centrist research center.
Nearly 4.9 million of these people would ultimately become uninsured, the institute predicts. Without coverage, most of these low- to moderate-income people would struggle to pay their medical bills and become prime candidates for hospital charity and uncompensated care.
That money-losing scenario after a plaintiff victory has sent a chill through HCA’s corporate coffers and the hospital industry as a whole.
“It’s kind of a perfect storm of all things bad,” said Jimmy Lewis, CEO of HomeTown Health LLC, a trade association of roughly 50 rural hospitals in Georgia and Florida. “Anything that increases the uninsured puts rural hospital providers at an even greater risk for distress or closure” [Tony Pugh, “Obamacare Ruling Could Devastate Hospitals,” Governing, 2015.03.17].
Senator Thune’s opposition to premium tax credits is one more example of how our senior Senator is putting Washington politics above South Dakota interests.