A new poll by WaPo/ABC News reveals that while more than half of voters oppose the law that established Obamacare, they also do not want the Supreme Court to remove federal subsidies for low-income Americans in states that did not set up their own healthcare exchanges.
The Supreme Court will issue a ruling in King v Burwell, the lawsuit that challenges theses subsidies. A “straightforward” reading of the law says that only states with their own exchanges receive federal subsidies. States that did not set up their own exchanges and rely on the federal marketplace are not eligible for the financial assistance. The Washington Posts writes, “If the court agrees, millions of people in 34 states that didn’t set up their own exchanges could lose federal subsidies, which could undermine the entire law.”
That’s the breaks. The law was written this way to incentivize states to set up their own exchanges. You can’t have it both ways now that some folks have learned a posteriori that Obamacare is financially crippling the country.
The toplines show that 54% of Americans oppose the law that established Obamacare and that 55% say the Court should not block the subsidies for low income Americans in states without healthcare exchanges.
But the law is not interpreted by the emotions of the public-at-large. Either the law says the subsidies only go to states with their own exchanges or it says all the states get subsidies.
The WaPo explains that independents and Republicans are driving the disconnect in the poll, where we find that both these groups oppose Obamacare but want the subsidies. By comparison, Democrats both support the Obamacare law and want everyone subsidized — no surprise here.
Really the question is why are Republicans and independents moved to support subsidies when they don’t support the law? I believe it is because the minute anyone asks about “low income” people the visceral reaction is to want to help them and not “take something away.” Of course this isn’t a bad sentiment in and of itself — but in this day and age, helping people means helping with government assistance rather than via private means or free market forces. And, no there wasn’t a free market in health care before Obamacare became the law.
The SCOTUS decision on King v. Burwell is expected some time this month.
The Post-ABC poll was conducted May 28-31 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults, including landline and cellphone-only respondents. Overall results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 percentage points.