Editor’s Note: This OpEd was written by former First District Congressman and Senate candidate Jack Kingston.
The Affordable Care Act may be remembered as one of the most disastrous pieces of legislation in modern history. It’s bad for patients, it’s crushing small businesses with more than 20,000 pages of regulations, and it does nothing to address the real problems in our healthcare system like the cost of treatments or access to care. I voted against the Affordable Care Act, I voted to repeal it more than 40 times, I fought to defund and dismantle it, and I strongly believe it must be repealed.
Disappointingly, after Thursday’s King vs Burwell ruling, it’s clear that the Supreme Court is playing favorites by defending and practically rewriting certain laws in order to protect them from legitimate challenges. Thus, Obamacare appears to be the law of the land unless Republicans win the Presidency in 2016, hold onto our majorities in the House and in the Senate, and unite behind a legitimate alternative to keep Americans healthy but protect our freedoms.
That’s the sad truth, at least for another 18 months.
An equally sad truth— and one that says a lot about the times we live in— is that by upholding Obamacare, Chief Justice John Roberts and the five associate justices in the majority probably just saved the Republican Party. Politically.
If the Court had ruled that those who purchase insurance through the federal exchange are not eligible for the same subsidies as those who purchased through state exchanges (as the law objectively and undeniably reads) most exchange enrollees would lose their subsidies and many would not be able to afford to stay on their plan. This puts Republicans in Washington in a very precarious spot.
If we try to address the issue by transitioning these enrollees off of the subsidies, our base would, appropriately, have none of it— prolonging spending related to Obamacare is a concession to the law’s legitimacy.
On the other hand, if we did nothing in response to the ruling, the nanny-state press would have had a field day. I can see the headline now: “Soulless Republicans kicking poor people out of insurance exchanges.” No matter how unwarranted the attack, the coverage would be disastrous for Republicans in an already difficult 2016 election season, where the Presidency appears to be a coin flip and Republicans will be defending 24 seats in the Senate to the Democrats’ 10.
So, while it is clearly a huge loss for conservatives that this law stays in place, politically, the party may actually be better off.
If this is what it takes to stay in the majority, is it worth it?