Will the Supreme Court Help the GOP Repeal Obamacare?
Policy + Politics

Will the Supreme Court Help the GOP Repeal Obamacare?

REUTERS/John Gress

Republican lawmakers are still vowing to repeal Obamacare—but this time they’re banking on the Supreme Court to help them.

If the Court rules against the administration in the much-anticipated case of King v. Burwell, some 6 million people would lose their subsidies and far fewer people would be able to buy coverage on the insurance exchanges. This could have enormous implications that could upend the entire law.

Related: Here’s What Might Happen if SCOTUS Rules Against Obamacare

The case challenges whether the law’s language only provides subsidies to people who signed up for coverage through the state exchanges, since the law doesn’t explicitly mention the federal exchange.

Congress could always swoop in and pass legislation to amend the law’s language and restore the subsidies, but GOP lawmakers are unlikely to make that happen.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Republicans would block any attempts by Democrats to correct the language. As The Journal notes, “the GOP-controlled House and Senate see the challenge as their best hope for tearing apart a law they have long opposed.”

The GOP’s plan runs counter to what the majority of Americans want. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll released on Thursday found that about 64 percent of people say they want the Congress to restore subsidies if the Court strikes them down.

This raises the stakes of the Court’s decision. An unfavorable ruling for the administration will be disastrous news for the White House and the millions of people getting health coverage through Obamacare. 

Democrat lawmakers who drafted the law, as well as patient advocates have been gearing up for the decision—pleading to the Court to side with the administration—saying a failure to do so would have devastating implications for millions of Americans.

Of course, as legal experts have pointed out, even if the Court strikes down the subsidies and Congress doesn’t pass a fix, there is still hope. 

States that currently rely on the federal exchange could create their own exchanges. And as some experts have pointed out, they could use workarounds that technically establish intent to set up some sort of state marketplace that still uses the federal portal. Many state lawmakers are exploring the possibilities.

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