“Will you take away my health insurance?” That question does not get asked often at Republican presidential forums. Yet it will be the most decisive question in the 2016 presidential election.
Since the last presidential election, the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act have taken effect. Millions of people are now enrolled in Medicaid, or are receiving health insurance subsidies through state exchanges, who were not enrolled or subsidized in November of 2012. Obamacare skeptics may disparage these benefits as inefficient, counter-productive, and excessively costly. Fine. Those who receive them won’t cherish them any less. The mortgage-interest deduction is not exactly a model of economic rationality. Try taking it away. Go ahead. Try.
It doesn’t matter than the Patient Deflection and Unaffordable Care Act is a complete sham, a welfare program funded by a tax on the middle class that nobody needed and nobody asked for. What matters is that the Dependency Brigades vote every four years to keep the gravy flowing:
Exact numbers of Obamacare beneficiaries are difficult to compute. However, healthcare economists estimate 11.2 million added to the Medicaid program since open enrollment under ACA began, and 10 million receiving subsidies through exchanges. And, since 2010, an estimated 5.7 million young adults between the ages of 19 and 25 gained coverage, mostly through their parents’ plans. If the ACA were repealed without a replacement, one would expect most or all of these people to lose their coverage.
“Coverage” they likely didn’t have before. But these days, “entitlements” are apparently engraved in stone, unrepealable from the moment of issue from the Great White Father in Washington. That’s why the upcoming Supreme Court decision in the Burwell case is so important:
Unless the Supreme Court strikes down subsidies in the federal exchange in the pending case of King v. Burwell, ACA insurance subsidies are paid everywhere in the country. As the next map shows, eligibility for subsidy is concentrated in the red states. Not all of those eligible claim the subsidy. Many of those who do receive subsidies might be expected to vote Democratic in 2016 even if healthcare were not an issue. But some Republican-leaning voters will feel the hit—and especially in a tightly balanced state like Florida, that hit could have real consequences.
The Court would be doing everybody a favor by torpedoing the “subsidies,” so that the nation might be able to soberly re-assess the nasty present the Democrats and Obama foisted on the country during the administration’s early days. Otherwise, we will have to live with this lie forever.