Conservatives are still crowing about their victory. Although, the infighting has already started within the Republican Party. The ACA is in the crosshairs of the Tea Party wackos. They want a total repeal of the law. McConnell is starting to talk about “fixing” parts of the law but apparently realizes that a total repeal is not going to happen anytime soon. Especially with President Obama still in office with his veto pen.
Yet, on the horizon is a case that the Supreme Court has announced it will hear. The case is King V. Burwell. The plaintiffs in this case say that the law, as written, only allows for government subsidies to the poor if those people signed up via a state-run exchange. Since 36 Republican controlled states did not set up an exchange, their citizens had to use the Federal Exchange. According to the plaintiffs, that means those citizens in those 36 states are not supposed to get subsidies to help pay for their insurance.
On Friday, SCOTUS agreed to hear the case. This has set off a firestorm on the right that “Obamacare” is doomed. Just about every “legal expert” says that the challenge is bogus. I am not a lawyer, so I don’t know if it is or not. Frankly, I get just as lost in legalese as most people. I do know for certain that all laws and their wording are subject to interpretation. One professor I had once took out his pen. He gave us a simple example of how legalese can be so misleading.
First he said that you may say, “I give you this pen.” But, if you later decide to take it back, you have the right to do so because you didn’t say “I give you this pen forever.” He then put up a full-page of legalese that would be required to say if you actually gave a pen to someone. It was maddening and frustrating to see a simple act of giving a pen to someone can be so tedious in legalese. That put me off on wanting to become a lawyer.
But, that is what the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell is looking for SCOTUS to rule. In their mind, the simple fact that Republican Governors and Legislators decided not to participate in the exchanges, that their citizens are not legally allowed to get these subsidies. That is their “silver bullet” to help kill the ACA.
If SCOTUS rules in favor of the conservatives on this, it is estimated that over 5 million people will have their insurance ripped from them because they won’t be able to afford the payments. All of them live in Republican controlled states. Many of them have health insurance for the first time in their lives. But, without the subsidies, they will not be able to afford that insurance anymore.
Everyone has not fully accepted the ACA yet. There are still millions of people who are being denied coverage because these same Republican controlled states refuse to expand Medicaid. So, those who cannot afford to purchase insurance, even with the subsidies, are still doing without. The conservatives in King v. Burwell want to add another 5 million people to the uninsured ranks.
Why are they so crazed to put more people on the uninsured lists? They want to use them as hostages! We have heard that slogan before. Hostages, they believe, will help them gain control and force their policies onto the American People. They have used the ACA before when they shut down the government. Problem was they took the hit for that.
What are Republicans going to say to their constituents who will lose health coverage if SCOTUS rules that they are not allowed to get the subsidies? How is it even possible to believe they will have an answer to 5 million people losing their health care? Apparently, they don’t care if those 5 million people lose their health care. How are they going to explain to their citizens that the citizens in neighboring states can get the subsidies and remain covered while they cannot? Do they really want their citizens to fall into a “second class citizenship” status when it comes to health care?
What they want is to do away with the ACA once and for all. There have been over 50 votes in the House of Representatives to repeal the ACA. Speaker Boehner has promised at least 20 times to lay out what the Republican plan would be to replace the ACA. No plan has ever been laid out. That is probably because the Republicans don’t have a plan.
Should SCOTUS rule in favor of the plaintiffs in this case, total chaos in the health industry will ensue. Look at the simple facts. If you take 5 million people out of the health care market, that means health companies will begin to lose money. That means the rest of us who can afford insurance will be forced to pay more for it. More hospitals will be forced to close. Doctors will lose patients and thus income as well. And, worst of all, people will die because they cannot get the health insurance and treatment they need.
We already know before the case is even heard that 4 conservative members of the court will vote in favor of the plaintiffs. We know this because it takes 4 justices to vote to even hear a case. That leaves Chief Justice Roberts as the swing vote. He has been somewhat hesitant in previous cases from overturning the ACA outright. He may do the same again and vote against the plaintiffs. But, if he does vote with his fellow conservative justices, chaos in the health care industry is just around the corner.
The Republicans are still shouting how they are going to end gridlock and “get things done.” If the conservatives win this case, the full ACA may fall apart simply because costs will skyrocket. The Court will do the Republicans dirty work for them. Conservatives will be overjoyed because they see millions of people losing their health insurance as a victory.
However, if the howling from their states becomes too great, McConnell and Boehner will be forced to come up with a plan. But then, Mr. Cruz will raise his ugly head and scream about any plan to fix or replace the ACA and the internal war will boil over. Rooting for a favorable ruling in King v. Burwell may put McConnell and his conservative cronies in a conundrum.
Then again, it just might show whether or not the Republicans are really ready to govern. The health of average Americans should be too great a price for these stupid games. That seems to be what Republicans are best at. Playing stupid games with the American People as pawns.