Blog: Political Jostling Post King v. Burwell

Democrats may be overly optimistic in their hopes that a Supreme Court ruling against Obamacare subsidies in King v. Burwell would be an unambiguous political disaster for Republicans.

The absurd, widely ridiculed claim tweeted by Senator John Thune – which suggested that the Affordable Care Act was to blame for the (potential) loss of health insurance premiums subsidies for six million Americans – was admittedly far too crude to gain traction:


At the same time, as reported yesterday by Politico and the Associated Press, Congressional Republicans are already readying proposals that would provide for the temporary extension of insurance subsidies in case of a victory of the plaintiffs in King.  Such proposals, however, would simultaneously gut key Affordable Care provisions, like the individual and employer mandates.

These proposals would be unacceptable for Democrats, and indeed would presumably be vetoed by Obama if passed.  However, as noted by Greg Sargent at the Washington Post in May, this would then provide Republicans with a potentially potent political line: “Claim they offered a reasonable “compromise” designed to spare all those millions of people from getting thrown off of insurance, while lamenting that Obama refused to go along with it …”

All in all, some rather sordid scheming, given all the lives on the line.  From the perspective of the progressive health care agenda, however, strategizing how to move beyond the ACA in the months and years ahead is far more important than the post King political jostling.