by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Beyond the three Republican members of the U.S. House who voted this week against a bill to repeal Obamacare, James Antle of The Daily Caller is worried. Antle shares his concerns about the likely GOP response if the Supreme Court ends up striking down Obamacare subsidies in states dealing with the federal health insurance exchange.
An estimated 87 percent of people who purchased insurance via HealthCare.gov received subsidies. Those tax credits are responsible for the talking point that Obamacare is cheaper than cable. Those tax credits would go away.
Barring changes to the law, health insurance purchased in this fashion would suddenly be revealed to be very expensive indeed. Healthy people would drop their coverage. The federal exchange, and the law itself, would become unsustainable.
Obamacare already creates winners and losers. (The biggest winners may be hospitals and insurance companies.) Without the subsidies for the federal exchange, there would be a lot fewer winners and more losers. And they would all know Obamacare is to blame.
At this point, Republicans may well cave.
Why would they do that, you ask? Because there’s an obvious political script Obamacare supporters will follow.
First, they will argue that millions are losing their coverage and seeing their costs spike not because Democratic supermajorities and the Obama White House hastily drafted a poorly constructed health care law, but because of Republicans in Congress and on the Supreme Court.
The next phase of this campaign will be directed at Republican governors and state legislators in states without Obamacare exchanges. They will be harangued until they agree to create exchanges. The Democratic governors and lawmakers in states without Obamacare exchanges will presumably require less persuasion.
Republicans who don’t accede to these demands will be accused of murder and blamed for whatever number of deaths progressive activists think plausible. They will also hear from the health insurance companies and the hospital lobbies.