The Supreme Court Might Gut Obamacare.

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by Nick Baumann,

from Mother Jones,

Conservatives are pushing to make subsidies unavailable for millions of people in red states. But there’s a potential fix.

On Friday, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear King v. Burwell, a case that could gut Obamacare and leave millions of Americans without health insurance. The case hinges on what is essentially a typo in the Affordable Care Act, a mistake that conservatives claim invalidates most of the subsidies the bill provides to help people buy insurance. If the justices buy the conservatives’ argument—and there’s reason to think they might—residents of the 34 states that provide health insurance via the federal government’s, rather than through a state-run exchange, could lose their subsidies. Many people would be unable to afford to buy insurance (as the ACA requires), and the whole system could collapse.

Here’s the good news: There may be a workaround. But there’s also bad news: The solution requires the cooperation of Republican governors and legislators.

The King plaintiffs base their argument on the fact that in parts of the Affordable Care Act, the text says subsidies will be available for people “enrolled through an Exchange established by the State.” Conservatives argue that the phrase “established by the state” means the government never intended to, and therefore cannot, offer subsidies in the 34 states that use the federal exchange, a.k.a. There’s plenty of evidence that Obamacare opponents are wrong about this. The rest of the law, its legislative history, and the recollections of lawmakers and journalists who were present at its creation all suggest that conservatives are misinterpreting a vague mistake in the legislation. Even the Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon—the intellectual force behind the lawsuit—once referred to this language as a “glitch.”

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