Supreme Court Decision on ACA Subsidies: In a major decision, the Supreme Court ruled last Thursday that the federal subsidies that help nearly 6.4 million people pay for their HealthCare.gov health insurance plans are legal under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The 6-3 ruling on King v. Burwell means that the 34 states being considered in this case will avoid skyrocketing prices on individual plan insurance and will prevent the loss of health coverage for nearly 8 million people in those states.
Joining Chief Justice Roberts in the majority decision were Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, while Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito sided with the plaintiffs.
Next Two Weeks in Congress: Both chambers of Congress are on recess this week in honor of the Fourth of July Holiday, and will return to Capitol Hill next Tuesday.
Upon their return from recess, Senate Democrats plan to vote against moving forward with spending bills passed by the House. These spending bills, including the Agriculture Appropriations bill that sets funding for WIC in 2016, have capped spending for domestic programs such as WIC. Many Congressional Democrats view these spending levels as inadequate for these crucial domestic programs, and would like to see the caps eased and/or lifted. Senate Democrats would therefore like to negotiate with Republicans over easing these spending caps before they begin voting on the spending bills. However, Republican lawmakers have said that they are not interested in negotiating.
Although it is likely that WIC will be able to continue to meet caseload needs in 2016 with the funding level appropriated by the House Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee, easing or lifting the current spending caps would increase the likelihood that WIC would be adequately funded in future years and could use additional funds for critical programs such as the breastfeeding peer counselor program and for the transition to E-WIC.