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Hullabaloo


Saturday, January 31, 2015

 

If your blue state is healthier, thank a Republican

by Tom Sullivan

Affordable Care Act opponents argue in King v. Burwell now before the U.S. Supreme Court that Congress intended to withhold subsidies from the states unless they established their own exchanges. If SCOTUS agrees, ACA opponents expect the ruling to effectively gut the federal exchanges operating in over half the states and to seriously undermine Obamacare.

Even as this argument seems to have fallen apart, should the court strike down the federal exchange subsidies, Republicans in Congress vow not to reinstate consumers’ health insurance tax credits.

Steve Benen writes:

Remember, as far as the public is concerned, a clear majority of Americans would expect the Republican Congress to protect consumers from hardship. Indeed, Greg Sargent this week flagged the latest report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which found that nearly two-thirds of Americans would expect lawmakers to keep existing subsidies in place if the Supreme Court ruling goes the wrong way. Only a fourth of the country would expect Congress to do nothing.

The same report found that even most Republicans support states setting up exchange marketplaces so that families can continue to receive subsidized access to medical care. This is, of course, the exact opposite of what GOP policymakers have in mind.

Ezra Klein reframes that outcome, arguing that Republicans' plan for Obamacare's demise has become "a plan to rip themselves off." Klein elaborates:

If the Supreme Court rules for the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell, the subsidies will basically shut off in (mostly) red states. And congressional Republicans won't do anything about it. That means Republicans in those states will be paying the taxes and bearing the spending cuts needed to fund Obamacare but getting none of the benefits.

Which is to say, the biggest fight in American politics in recent years began with Democrats creating a law that was a giant subsidy from blue states to red states and has evolved into Republicans working to turn the law into a giant subsidy from red states to blue states. It is very, very weird.

Not really. Republicans, especially in the 15 refusenik states Klein identifies, have a unremitting knack for cutting off their noses to spite their faces (and their children's). They have principles and they stand in on them.