The U.S. Supreme Court in March will hear arguments about federal health insurance subsidies in the King v. Burwell case, one of the top recent news items on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). So where does America’s Essential Hospitals stand? With the most vulnerable.

At issue in this case is whether the federal government provides subsidies for insurance coverage bought through a state or federal marketplace – the plaintiffs argue that an Internal Revenue Service rule negates the subsidies, which others consider integral to the ACA.

California Healthline reports: “If the court strikes down the subsidies, the ruling would eliminate about $28.8 billion in subsidies to 9.3 million individuals in 34 states in 2016, according to an Urban Institute analysis (Demko, Modern Healthcare, 1/28).”

But what does this mean? Writing in a joint amicus brief with three other national hospital associations, we affirmed:

“The ACA’s subsidies have made it possible for more than 9 million men, women, and children to have health care coverage—some for the first time in years; some, no doubt, for the first time in their lives. That coverage allows them to go to the doctor when they are sick, and to do so without fear that the resulting bill could leave them in financial distress.”

The brief also argues that repealing the subsidies would in turn boost the number of uninsured patients, an outcome directly contrary to the intent of Congress and the text of the ACA. What’s more, rising rates of uninsured patients “would devastate some hospitals and leave others without the resources they need to serve their communities – especially the most vulnerable.”

In the end, coverage matters. And for many people, those subsidies are the only way to ensure coverage.

To walk the walk, as it were, we are also participating in the upcoming Hospital Week of Action event spearheaded by Enroll America. Join us with #GotCovered tweets and share essential hospital experiences! Together, we can demonstrate the importance of affordable coverage.