Even if Republicans Win in King vs. Burwell, They Would Still Lose

This article was published on the Health Care Exchange Guide on March 31:

With still a few months to go before the Supreme Court reveals its decision on the fateful King vs. Burwell case, a lot hangs in balance for the people who are happy with their subsidized health insurance. Almost 7 million people are about to lose their subsidies, all because of a simple phrase in the language of the Affordable Care Act that could outlaw subsidies delivered through federal exchanges to states which did not establish their own exchange. Had the Congress not been dysfunctional, this minor aberration in the law would have been fixed without much ado.

However, with a Republican senate in full force, Republicans are finally looking at a formidable strategy that could outdo Obamacare, just like they have wanted all this long. In fact, Republicans finally have a fighting chance against the law, but that doesn’t mean it will do them any good. In public eye, it is clear that the King vs. Burwell case has been given this much importance because the Congress is unwilling to fix the law and make it work due to vested interests against ACA. If the subsidies are ultimately killed in the ruling, the blame will be on the Republicans, and they might lose their 2016 battle right away to the Democrats.

Currently, if the subsidies go out, Republicans do not have a working alternative to all the money this will save the federal coffers, and just keeping them in the reserve wouldn’t do them any more good. In fact, the only good it will do is killing their chances at the coming elections. Without the subsidies, health plans will experience up to 70% drop in enrollments and, as a result, they might have to affect a near 40% increase in health insurance premiums to stabilize their costs.

Contrary to what the Republicans want, a ruling in their favor in King vs. Burwell might not outdo ACA any time soon. Sanjay Singh, CEO of hCentive, a technology firm that addresses the challenge of state exchanges, said that the ruling might not be the immediate demise of ACA, as some adjustments will be made to ensure that the subsidies expire at the end of this year to level it with the closing of the tax year. In this grace period, a lot of state governments could get their exchanges up and running through providers, such as hCentive, which offer a working state exchange solution in a matter of few months.

Even if the ruling goes in favor of Republicans, they would still lose the ultimate ACA battle as states get their exchanges up before they are hit by the storm, and in return, they would face public ire for siding away with a system that was offering subsidies insurance to about 7 million Americans. There’s no way Republicans are coming out of this with a smile plastered on their faces.