Millions of Americans face the loss of their health insurance if the U.S. Supreme Court rules against President Barack Obama on his health-care law. As of the latest reports registered from the White House on Tuesday, the saddest part of this ongoing struggle of two ideologies is there is no backup to help these people if that occurs. The Republicans contend they have a plan, but nothing specific at this time from them or the White House. It could turn into an unmitigated disaster for those millions of policy holders.
What the court will say is whether tax subsidies under Obamacare that make insurance more affordable for 6.4 million people in 34 states are legal. The consequences of that ruling will be the possibility of triggering a high-stakes debate between the administration and Congress over how to respond. For the most part, there isn’t a state in the union that has so far made any suggestions. This will become part of the presidential debates beginning in early August.
Most experts agree the court will rule the latest policies illegal. A ruling against the subsidies in the health-care law, Obama’s biggest domestic achievement, would actually triple (or more) insurance premiums. It will force millions of Americans to actually cancel out on policies sending costs soaring for others.
There are of course courses of action that can be taken immediately. For instance, states affected by the ruling could set up their own health-insurance marketplaces, called exchanges. The federal government can easily make that more effective by sharing the technology behind its healthcare.gov system already in place, no matter how muddled it has been since its inception over a year ago.
The case itself hinges on the meaning of four words in the law that appear to reserve tax subsidies to people buying insurance on exchanges “established by a state.” Naturally, opponents of the law sued, arguing that the subsidies shouldn’t be available in the three-dozen states that haven’t established their own exchanges and use the healthcare.gov system instead. Democrats who actually wrote the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act contend that was never their intent. In other words, it is a law that was sped through Congress with no insight into what might be the ultimate legal outcome of the law.
Meanwhile, about two dozen House Republicans, led by Georgia’s Tom Price, take take the tough approach. They demand an end to the existing mandate, shut down healthcare.gov, allow insurers to once again charge higher prices to sick people or refuse them coverage. In summary, repeal a requirement that young adults be allowed to stay on their parents’ plans.
The White House weakly pronounces that any of these proposals would undermine the law, increase insurance costs, and leave millions without coverage. That being said, again, there is no backup plan at this time coming from the Obama administration. It is as if they are trying to wish away what could very well be inevitable.
Without some sort of political deal being worked out, states will have to decide how to proceed. Should they build their own exchanges? They could actually rely on technology already developed by the federal government or private companies that have offered low-cost solutions. But will that be enough of a solution for millions of Americans without health insurance?
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