Virginians caught in Obamacare debate

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by Lucy Bustamante, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on July 23, 2014 at 6:28 PM

NORFOLK -- Allison Flowers is a 52-year-old former human resources director who was laid off over a year and a half ago. She lost her job and her health insurance along with it. 

When she tried to buy her own private plan, the rate skyrocketed from $300 a month to $700 for her entire family. 

During that time of being uninsured, she ended up in the emergency room with heart arrhythmia due to her thyroid condition. 

"They told me to follow up with the cardiologist and I said there is no way I can afford a follow-up, Flowers said. "I did everything right. I graduated from a prestigious Virginia university, I married my college sweetheart, I did it all right. I'm an example that this can happen to anyone."

She enrolled for a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act and received a subsidy based on where she sits on the federal poverty level chart. She now pays $22 a month for her Optima health insurance premium and has also received government assistance to meet her deductible of $1500. 

On Tuesday, two courts issued dueling about subsidies that help millions of low- and middle-income people afford health insurance.

A panel of the appeals court in Washington said the plain language of the law states that financial aid can only be provided in states that have set up their own insurance exchanges, but a court in Richmond cited the IRS which claims tax credits can also be provided in states where the federal government is running the markets.

LEARN MORE: Health care rulings confusing 

The Kaiser Family Foundation which unbiasedly monitors the progression of the implementation of the ACA has stated on its website that the rulings may not impact people who bought a subsidized plan for about another year and a half. 

The Department of Health and Human Services says that 36 states use the the federal marketplace. Virginia is one of them. 

When 13News Now reached out to the department, a spokesperson referred us to another person at the Department of Justice. 

Gaylene Kanoyton with Celebrate Healthcare LLC, a business she started to enroll people on health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, says nothing changes at this point for her customers who enrolled. 

Sen. Jeff McWaters (R-VA) tells 13News Now that this drafting error in the ACA law is one of the many examples of how broken this law is. 

"It will be interesting to see if the federal government will collect the money that they've already given out to people for their health insurance plans." 

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