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W.Va. reactions mixed on health care ruling

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Reactions across the state were mixed Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to uphold a key component of the Affordable Care Act.

In the case of King v. Burwell, the plaintiff challenged the law because it specifies that only people insured through health care exchanges set up by states can be eligible for tax credits.

Had the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, individuals insured through a federally facilitated health care exchange would have lost the tax credits that made their insurance plans affordable. West Virginia is among the 34 states that rely on a federally run health insurance marketplace for individual plans.

According to information provided by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s office, about 33,000 West Virginians are insured through the individual marketplace, with about 85 percent of those receiving tax credits on their insurance plans.

“We appreciate the court’s ruling,” said Shayna Varner, a spokeswoman for the governor. “This will help West Virginians who count on the tax credits available through the Affordable Care Act to continue purchasing insurance through the private market.”

Terri Giles, executive director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, praised the Supreme Court’s decision.

“I’m thrilled for 26,000 West Virginians that will retain their subsidies, which will help with purchasing health care for them and their families,” Giles said.

“It’s a monumental victory for consumers, obviously, across the country and across the nation, and particularly in West Virginia. I couldn’t be happier, and hopefully we can move on,” Giles said.

Thursday’s ruling was not the first time the Affordable Care Act has survived a legal challenge that came before the Supreme Court.

Giles said the ruling shows the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. She urged policy leaders to build on the law instead of trying to tear it down.

“There’s no going back. The president said it today. The Supreme Court’s said it twice now. You can’t look back. You have to go forward,” Giles said. “I don’t see any productivity for any consumer or any West Virginian to keep putting on your fighting gloves. It’s not changing the system. It’s not making things any better.”

The King v. Burwell case, with its potential to effectively gut the Affordable Care Act, had become a focal point for political debate over the controversial health care law, and many reactions to Thursday’s ruling fell along party lines.

“I am disappointed in today’s ruling by the Supreme Court,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a Republican, said…

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