Greg Sargent points out that the number of people who'll be seriously affected if the Supreme Court overturns Obamacare is possibly greater than previously expected:
One thing to watch as we approach the SCOTUS hearings on King v. Burwell this spring is how many people are newly qualifying for subsidies in those states as this year’s enrollment period continues.The total could be well over five million.
The Department of Health and Human Services has released a new report on enrollment data that suggests that number could be very large -- which could (theoretically, at least) make it harder for SCOTUS to gut the law.
... in general terms a very high percentage of those on the federal exchange appear to qualify for subsidies.
... we could be looking at a lot of people who would lose subsidies in the event of a bad SCOTUS ruling, perhaps more overall than previous estimates of around four million. And the enrollment period still has six weeks to go.
... In federal-exchange states where the largest numbers of people might lose subsidies if SCOTUS rules against the law, state officials might be less likely to then set up their own exchanges to keep the subsidies flowing....I've been thinking that an extreme disruption of health coverage for millions is just what the right wants -- far from being a reason the Republicans on the Court might refrain from overturning Obamacare, it's a desired result.
The reason this matters: Highlighting the potential for such a SCOTUS decision to result in widespread disruptions and dire consequences -- both for millions who might lose coverage and for the insurance and health care industry in these states -- may figure heavily in the government’s strategy for winning the case. Now, it’s possible that expected swing vote John Roberts won’t bother considering such disruptions and consequences in reaching his decision. But who knows -- he just might....
But that's only if Republicans continue to feel bulletproof -- remember, they've made government more or less non-functional in D.C. for years, and they have lousy poll numbers to show for it ... and yet they blew the Democrats away in the 2014 elections, because voters blamed government dysfunction on the president's party. If Republicans think voters will blame anything that goes wrong with Obamacare on Obama, then they'll want to make insurance too expensive for six million people.
But maybe they don't trust their luck -- if Obamacare is overturned by five Republican judges, even low-information votrs might blame the GOP rather than the president.
Also, Republicans may still want Obamacare around in 2016 as a base-voter motivator.
So maybe Roberts will rescue the law again. But if he does, it'll be as a pro-GOP chess move, not because the suit fails on the merits or because he thinks pulling the rug out from millions is a bad thing.