Thousands of Virginians fret as health care law hangs in the balance

Posted at 7:22 PM, Jun 13, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-13 19:22:23-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - In a matter of weeks, days, maybe even hours -- nobody knows -- the Supreme Court will be deciding the fate of President Obama’s health care reform law.

The ruling will potentially do much more than just interpret the constitutionality of the law, but could very well decide how, and if, millions of Americans receive their health insurance coverage.

Heather Truitt, who like some two-and-a-half million other young adults is still on her parents’ plan under the Affordable Care Act, is awaiting the high court’s decision with her breath held.

“I would use it as long as I can, until I’m 26 probably,” said Truitt, who’s earning her master’s degree at VCU for social work. “Until I graduate and find a job with benefits, which, who knows how likely that will be?”

It’s a perfect storm, of sorts. There are millions of new college graduates just hitting the job market who are looking for a job with health insurance coverage, but who may struggle to find a full-time position.

At the same time, the Supreme Court may overturn a law that, among other things, allows young adults under 26 to stay on their parents’ plan.

“Up until the Affordable Care Act was enacted, in this country, you typically got your insurance through your job,” said Michael Cassidy, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, an independent think

“But that basis upon which most folks get health insurance has been waning away,” continued Cassidy, leaving many young people in a tight spot.

According to federal numbers, about 63,000 Virginians under 26 currently receive health care coverage through their parents’ plan. Many of those individuals could be out-of-luck, and out of coverage, if the law is overturned.

Compounding the problem is the fact that a new study shows one out of every two new college graduates are either unemployed, or underemployed -- swelling the ranks of people who need health insurance.

CBS News reported recently, however, that three of the country’s largest insurers -- United Healthcare, Aetna, and Humana -- have announced plans to keep parts of the ACA regardless of the Supreme Court ruling, including the provision that allows adults under 26 to stay on their parents’ plan.

On Wednesday, CBS 6 contacted Anthem, Virginia’s largest provider, to find out their stance.

We were told that Anthem is taking a “wait and see approach” according to spokesperson Scott Golden, who said there are “many different routes the Supreme Court could go.”

We also contacted the Republican Party of Virginia for comment, but the RPV was unable to provide us with a response.