The Affordable Care Act is back in the Supreme Court, but this time 8 million people could lose their health insurance and GOP lawmakers are worried.
The newest case, which was brought by people who were recruited by conservative and libertarian think tanks, argues that there’s a phrase in the Affordable Care Act that makes the tax credit subsidies illegal if they don’t go through an online market for health plans created by individual state governments. The federal government runs the exchange in 34 states and 26 of those states have Republican governors. Additionally, 22 of the 24 Republican Senate seats that will be up in 2016 are in those states.
This means that, if the Supreme Court decides to rule in favor of those citizens, the millions of people who would lose their insurance might blame the GOP, causing them to vote for more liberal lawmakers in 2016. Most states haven’t set up their own exchange because of the intense divide over the Affordable Care Act, so they rely on the federal government’s enrollment program.
Former Kansas insurance commissioner Sandy Praeger said the results of the Supreme Court’s decision could be “ugly.”
"People who are reasonably healthy would just drop coverage," she said. "Only the unhealthy would keep buying health care. It would really exacerbate the problem of the cost of health insurance.”
Some Republicans are preemptively trying to start damage control. Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has introduced a bill that would continue the subsidies for current customers who used the federal exchange until Sep. 2017. The bill has been co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
The Supreme Court will make their decision in late June.