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King v. Burwell: "Don't fix Obamacare" movement grows

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LIVE Q&A at 12 p.m. EST: Have questions about King v. Burwell? We have answers! Leave your questions for Vox's Sarah Kliff below in the comments, and she'll be here answering them from 12 - 1 p.m. EST on Monday, June 22. Fire away!

The Supreme Court will rule this month on King v. Burwell, a case arguing that Obamacare's insurance subsidies are illegal. A decision in favor of President Obama's health-care law could solidify its place in history — but one against would throw the insurance expansion into chaos.

Up until the ruling, Vox will collect the most important news, commentary, and thoughts on what could happen — and what it means for the Affordable Care Act.

We're still waiting for Lyle. Always waiting for Lyle. The Supreme Court will issue decisions this morning at 10. Among those decisions might be the King v. Burwell decision. Or not! Follow along with SCOTUSBlog and, if you're so inclined, me on Twitter.

What to send your friends who haven't paid attention to this at all: 11 facts that explain King v. Burwell.

Chevron deference? Of course we have an explainer on it. Everything you need to know on the legal principle at the heart of King v. Burwell right here.

If the Supreme Court does rule against Obamacare, no one will rush to the law's rescue — There are three actors that could, theoretically, step in to quickly fix Obamacare in the case of a ruling against the law: the White House, Congress, and the states. Don't expect any of them to rush in to fix it. You can read more about that here. But the tl;dr is:

  • White House: wants to fix the law, but says it lacks the legal power to do so
  • Congress: under Republican control, won't rush to Obamacare's rescue
  • States: could theoretically stand up state-based insurance marketplaces but face big political and logistical obstacles that expects describe as difficult to overcome

Why John Roberts might save Obamacare Stephanie Mencimer at Mother Jones argues that judging from Roberts's history, he'll likely rule in favor of big business:

The case has pitted big businesses against the tea party, and in that fight, Roberts is much more likely to come down on the side of business. In his years in private practice at the white-shoe law firm Hogan & Hartson, Roberts showed himself comfortable as part of the establishment. And since landing on the high court, his most predictable votes have been in cases involving business interests.

Of course, there are reasons to doubt the Supreme Court will save Obamacare, too.

"Don't fix Obamacare" movement grows All Republican plans for a ruling in favor of King have one thing in common: they extend the law's financial help for the 6.4 million Americans currently getting tax credits. Not anymore: one of the House's most conservative members, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), has rolled out a bill that would block any subsidy extension. Sarah Ferris reports on it here for the Hill.

Heritage Action has urged a similar approach. Chief executive Mike Needham writes for the Daily Signal about his group's new survey research:

Restoring the subsidies appears likely to shift more rather than less blame to Republicans for the situation. According to Heritage’s survey, 67 percent of Americans agree that if Republicans extend the law’s subsidies for the short term, "they will bear the blame when the time comes to take those subsidies away."

Joe Antos at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute has done some very-in-depth, helpful thinking on what a Republican King contingency plan could look like. The New York Times editorial board, meanwhile, is not impressed with those plans.

Graphic of the day

king v burwell subsidies

A Kaiser Family Foundation report shows that Obamacare enrollees' premiums will go up 256 percent if the Supreme Court rules against the health-care law. More here.

Q&A Time! Have a question about the King decision? Email me at And in the meantime, here's one that turned up in my inbox this weekend: "If subsidies are declared illegal in states that have a federally run exchange, could that state 'contract' another state's exchange? For example, could Texas purchase the use of California's exchange and therefore receive the subsidies? After all, this would be an exchange established by a state."

Yes! Theoretically, an approach like this could work, with Texas buying the software California built to power its marketplace. And it's possible you could see a state like Delaware or Pennsylvania, which the government has approved to run marketplaces in 2016, taking this approach.

The big roadblock here, for a state like Texas, is politics: the state has so far refused to expand Medicaid under the health-care law, and Gov. Greg Abbott ran on a repeal platform. So even though Texas could, theoretically, purchase California's software, it's unlikely the state would have any interest in moving forward with that type of plan.

That's all until next time. Well, except for this (hat tip to Vox's Libby Nelson for this delightful pun).


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