The number of uninsured people in the United States has dropped by the millions thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.
Just how many depends on how you count and who’s counting. Whether the number is 9.7 million (according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index) or 16.4 million (according to the Obama administration), that’s still millions of people who have been able to get health insurance who didn’t have it before.
So, for all of the Republican rhetoric about repealing the law, they will have to deal with millions of people who would lose their coverage altogether.
If the King v. Burwell decision goes in favor of King to eliminate the Obamacare subsidies in states that have not set up their own exchanges, you would think Republicans would be overjoyed. Instead, they’re divided and scrambling to find a fix…at least temporarily. This is the part of the law that people LIKE. If the subsidies in the federal exchanges are eliminated, then millions of people will lose the help they needed in order to get insurance. And then the exchanges would turn into an adverse selection death spiral.
This would not really be an issue in the first place if Republican governors and state legislatures in 34 states had just created their own exchanges with the federal money provided to do so. Instead, they chose to play politics and rebel. And now, if the Supreme Court rules in favor of King, they will be accountable to their citizens for the loss of subsidies.
The ruling is certainly far from guaranteed for King, as Yale Law professor Abbe Gluck explained very well.
But if King does win the case, Republicans can’t agree on a strategy for what to do next: do they provide some temporary fix to extend the subsidies until after the 2016 election, or do they just cut them off completely? A few million people losing the health insurance that Obamacare afforded them — based on a technicality — could make for some unpleasant town hall meetings for Republican legislators in red states as well as the 2016 GOP candidates for President.