What Destroying Obamacare Will Do

We Heart ObamacareI’ve written a couple of articles about the threat that we now face because the Supreme Court decided to review King v Burwell. The first was, Supreme Court May Yet Destroy Obamacare — which goes over the case and how it could ultimately lead to the repeal of Obamacare. The second was just last night, Consservatives Will Kill Textualism to Hurt Obamacare — which discusses how the textualists on the Supreme Court will likely abandon their supposed judicial philosophy for the chance to harm the healthcare law they so hate. What I haven’t discussed is just what the effect of such a decision would be in the thirty-odd states that did not create their own exchanges.

Luckily, Jonathan Cohn is on the job, Here’s What the Supreme Court Could Do to Insurance Premiums In Your State. We are going to see insurance premiums go up — way up. This is a lot of disruption, “Nationwide, more than 4 million people living in 37 states would be in situations like these.” But there’s more. Because the premiums would quickly rise, most people would be unable to continue to afford it and this would have a destabilizing effect on insurers. And this would mean everyone else would be paying more:

The underlying premiums for all people buying insurance on their own in these states would rise by an average of 43 percent, while the number of Americans without insurance could rise by as much as 7 million.

I’m reminded of John Roberts disingenuous comment about just calling balls and strikes. This case is not about playing umpire. If the Supreme Court manages to gut Obamacare, it will be doing it as the partisan judicial arm of the Republican Party. I know this sounds like hyperbole, but it is literally true: if the Supreme Court does this, people will die as a direct result. And John Roberts and the rest of the conservatives on the court are delusional if they think they are just disinterested parties calling strikes.

The one thing that has most defined the Roberts Court has been legal scholars consistently amazed that cases that would have been laughed out of small claims court a few years ago finding a winning audience in the highest court in the nation. If Roberts is really interested in his legacy, he’s doing a terrible job of it. Roger Taney is mostly remembered for a single decision. Roberts will be remembered as the Chief Justice who oversaw the complete breakdown of law in the name of partisan gain.

In this case, the people most targeted are going to see an overwhelming assault. Cohn provided the following graph to show just how big an effect the lack of federal subsidies will be in the states that are directly affected:

Premium Increases as a Result of King v Burwell

That’s a 500% increase in Florida. Good thing they voted for Rick Scott! But that’s actually nothing compared to the people of Mississippi who will see their average premium go from $23 to $438 — an increase of over 1,900%! What’s most remarkable about this lawsuit is that this is exactly what it is trying to do. This isn’t some unfortunate side effect. The idea is to get people angry so that they kill the law. But if that doesn’t happen, it means that people will pay taxes and without getting any benefit from it.

I hate books and television shows with titles like, “America’s Stupidest Criminals!” It doesn’t reflect an understanding that most crime is the result of desperation. Robbing a liquor store is not at the top of most people’s list of, “How to make ends meet!” So I’m very understanding of the millions in our jails and prisons. But the kind of people who push lawsuits like King v Burwell are not desperate. They are simply harming other people — mostly powerless people — just to get an advantage. They are doing this because a tiny tax was enacted for the rich. That is, after all, the reason conservatives are against Obamacare. Forget the individual mandate and all that; they hate the law because it raised taxes on the rich.

So remember this graph when you hear conservatives talk with glee about the impending doom of Obamacare. This is what we are talking about. And these are not the people on welfare — those people won’t be affected. This is something that conservatives are doing to the working poor: people doing hard jobs for little money. That’s what modern conservatism is all about: afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable. They must be so pleased with themselves. Of course, that’s the great thing about being a sociopath: you always sleep well.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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