Several leading congressional Republicans, fearful that the GOP will be blamed for the subsidies disappearing and people losing insurance, have floated broad ideas on how to replace, at least partially, the tax credits now received by HealthCare.gov customers. The Obama administration has said it has no contingency plans for replacing the subsidies, but will face political pressure to consider suggestions by Congress to remedy the situation.
A number of states also may set up, or try to set up, their own Obamacare exchanges, whose customers then would be able to get subsidies.
Twenty-three states currently served by HealthCare.gov filed briefs supporting the legality of the subsidies, Singh noted, which could suggest they would be more likely to open their own exchange.
Singh said that if the Supreme Court announced in June that the subsidies were going away for 2016, it would be technologically possible for states to set up their own online insurance marketplaces in time for the next open enrollment season, which begins Nov. 1.
HCentive's own Obamacare exchange technology, which last year was adopted by Massachusetts to replace its own failed exchange, can be used "out of the box" if a state's elected officials move to set up their own exchange, Singh said.
"We can guarantee them open enrollment for 2016," he said.
Another possibility, he noted, is for states to set up the legal apparatus for such an exchange, and then contract with HealthCare.gov to handle the actual enrollment.
"That may be an option," echoed Susswein, the tax expert. "The [Obama] administration could say that for any state that wants, you can hire us out."