03/04/2015 09:20 am ET Updated May 04, 2015

Let's Talk King v. Burwell and the Potential Impact of Higher Health Care Costs on Patients

When you've read about the King v. Burwell case, particularly on important days for Supreme Court decisions like today, you've probably read conflicting reports. Do the tax credit rules for state-facilitated marketplaces apply to the federal marketplace? Ultimately, we're wondering: How could the Supreme Court decision really affect the average patient? According to an ASPE report released in 2012, 8 in 10 (1.6 million) eligible, previously uninsured Asian Americans & Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders (AA&NHOPIs) qualify to receive tax credits in the Health Insurance Marketplaces, or are eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

What does that mean for health center patients? If you work in a health center, you know better than anyone. Removal of the tax credits means increased costs incurred by patients, sometimes deterring them from getting, or even accessing, the care that they need. Forget that annual blood pressure screening. Forget getting those more expensive medications that are not available in generic form.

Removal of the tax credits from the Affordable Care Act means worse health outcomes for health center patients. Those who could have entered the health system at an early and treatable point of a health condition may end up visiting their health center/ER with a much more complicated (and costly) issue. Not only is this a moral argument, it's a basic public health argument.

So what does that mean? More complicated conditions ultimately mean higher costs to the health system. You know that. Together, we need to talk about the impact of higher costs, caused by the potential removal of the tax credits, on AA&NHOPI patients going to health centers.

*See the harms to AAPCHO center patients highlighted in two amicus ("friend of the court") briefs led by Action for Health Justice and the National Association of Community Health Centers.