Obamacare supporters got personal Tuesday, targeting congressional Republicans whose districts would stand to lose the most if the Supreme Court rules later this month that the administration has been breaking the law in paying part of residents’ health insurance costs.
Families USA, a health advocacy group, said a ruling could be hard on southern states, and particularly Florida, which is home to about a fifth of the 6.4 million Americans who rely on subsidies to afford plans bought on the federal HealthCare.gov website under Obamacare.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican, could see 91,000 of his constituents lose tax credits, the report said, while his neighbor, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, represents 84,000 people who get subsidized health coverage under Obamacare.
The report was designed to highlight the ruling’s potential impact, placing pressure on Republicans to find a way to make the subsidies continue should the court rule adversely.
“It really will be their responsibility to get this fixed,” executive director Ron Pollack said.
Both Mr. Diaz-Balart and Ms. Ros-Lehtinen said they shouldn’t be blamed for the fallout of a ruling that hinges on language that Democrats authored, but they vowed to work on backup plans.
“We believe our constituents should not be punished for the wrongdoing committed by congressional Democrats and the president — providing Americans subsidies that are illegal,” they said in a joint statement. “We agree that we need to address both the short-term issue, the subsidies, and the long-term issue, fixing our healthcare system.”
Families USA highlighted a dozen states overall, the first in a series of releases that will cover all 34 affected states that rely on the federal exchange, and that could see their subsidies cut off should the justices rule that tax payments can only be made in states that run their own programs.
The new report said 459,000 people in North Carolina and 412,000 in Georgia could lose subsidies, with a mix of Democrats and Republicans leading the most-affected districts in each.
President Obama and his allies are trying to set the stage for the immediate aftermath of a court ruling, painting the case as the final showdown over Obamacare.
Without the subsidies, healthier consumers would likely drop coverage first, sending insurance markets into a tailspin in affected states.
“If the court rules against he subsidies, devastation will strike both health care consumers and the health care system at large,” Mr. Pollack said.
Republican leaders in both the House and Senate are doing some jockeying of their own, vowing to protect Americans who could lose their coverage without protecting the law itself.
“We’re working to form a transition to get people away from the president’s health care law, away from Obamacare, and give them more freedom, more choice, more flexibility,” Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, said.
Amid scurrying on Capitol Hill, a majority of the public is not dialed into the fight, according to new polling.
The Kaiser Family Foundation found 28 percent have heard only a little about the case, while 44 percent say they’ve heard nothing at all. Only 27 percent have heard either “something” or “a lot” about the case.
More than six in 10 say Congress should pass a law to make sure people in every state are eligible for the subsidies, even though opinions about the law itself tilt toward the negative, 42-39 percent.
Faced with hundreds of thousands of residents who could lose subsidies, some states are scrambling to try to set up new exchanges that would meet the rules no matter which way the court rules. The Obama administration this week tentatively approved contingency plans for Arkansas, Delaware and Pennsylvania.