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State officials huddle to talk Obamacare contingency plans

Officials from more than a dozen states quietly met in Chicago last month to talk about the possibility that the Supreme Court could undercut their states' respective health insurance marketplaces, the Wall Street Journal first reported.

The officials mostly represented states that rely on the federal government to run their Obamacare marketplaces, or "exchanges." If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs in the King v. Burwell case, consumers in those states could lose access to federal subsidies. That would leave millions of Americans, concentrated largely in GOP-led states like Texas and Florida, without the financial support that puts the "affordable" in the Affordable Care Act.

All told, there are 34 states that currently rely on the federal marketplace. The health officials who met in Chicago last month pessimistically noted that Republican leaders in many of those states would not be interested in setting up their own health care marketplaces, even if their residents lose access to subsidies, the Journal reported. Even if they were interested in doing so, it would be infeasible to set up a new marketplace quickly enough to keep the current subsidies flowing.

The meeting was organized by a health policy foundation called the Milbank Memorial Fund.

Asked about the outcome of the meeting, Milbank Memorial Fund President Christopher Koller said he couldn't speak for the state officials who attended. That said, he told CBS News, "My own experience as a former health insurance commissioner who helped set up the state exchange in Rhode Island is that if the Supreme Court rules for King, states participating in the federal exchange will be in very complex situation regarding their individual and small group health insurance marketplaces and will be looking for federal guidance on what constitutes a state-based insurance exchange."

The Obama administration says it doesn't have any contingency plans in the works in anticipation of the Supreme Court's decision, which is expected to come down in late June.

Republican members of Congress, however, are using the opportunity to take another stab at proposing national health care reforms. The Republican Study Committee, a group of conservatives in the House, is rolling out a health care reform contingency plan on Thursday, a congressional aide told CBS news. In addition to repealing Obamacare, the plan proposes "leveling the playing field" between individuals purchasing insurance and employers, expands Health Savings Accounts and gives consumers more control over them, and aims to spur private sector innovation to achieve medical breakthroughs. The plan will have no new tax increases or mandates.

CBS News producer Alicia Amling contributed to this report.

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