BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — Nearly 138,000 people in Louisiana will continue to receive federal subsidies that help pay for their health insurance.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down Thursday a challenge to the federal health law that could have jettisoned tax credits used by Louisianians to buy insurance coverage.
The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates premiums could have soared by an average of 347 percent in Louisiana — if the court had decided tax credits couldn't be paid to people in states that use the federal government's insurance marketplace, rather than creating their own.
Louisiana is one of 34 states that use the federal marketplace.
Low- and middle-income residents in the state get an average tax credit of $323 per month to help cover their insurance costs, according to Kaiser.
The president of the Louisiana Hospital Association praised the Supreme Court ruling as a "tremendous win" for people who rely on the subsidies for health care. Paul Salles said in a statement that without the assistance, healthier individuals likely would drop their insurance.
"This exodus would have increased premiums for all enrollees on the individual market — regardless of whether they received any financial assistance," Salles said. "Allowing working families to keep their coverage will preserve access to primary and preventive care, while helping hospitals to continue improving the health of local communities."
But Louisiana's Republicans continued their broader criticisms of the federal health overhaul championed by President Barack Obama, saying the law must be repealed.
"President Obama would like this to be the end of the debate on Obamacare, but it isn't. The debate will continue because the law has failed to accomplish its prime objective: Containing health care costs," Gov. Bobby Jindal, who a day earlier entered the GOP presidential race, said in a statement.
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, of Metairie, the House's third-highest ranking Republican, said he was disappointed in the ruling, but added: "It does not change the fact that Obamacare has been a dismal failure for millions of Americans who have lost the good health care that they liked, and are paying more for the plans that they have."
A doctor in Congress, Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, of Lafayette, said Thursday's ruling doesn't end debate over the health overhaul.
Instead, in a statement he said the decision "will cast the shortcomings of this law in an even harsher light, forcing the law to emerge from the shadow of litigation, stand on its own two feet, and be judged on its merits."