What we talk about when we talk about killing Obamacare


We’re actually talking about killing our neighbors.

Late this month the Supreme Court is expected to rule on King v Burwell, a suit financed by the conservative right that seeks to use some trivial inconsistencies in phrasing to gut Obamacare in 37 states and possibly cripple it nationwide. That SCOTUS even agreed to hear the suit is a sign of how thoroughly he right has politicized the legislative branch.

The suit has yet to be decided. But that it has generated so much coverage underlines something that to my mind gets far too little attention: This suit, and the ferocious, endless attack on Obamacare is it part of, advances the right’s cause even if the court rules the subsidies are legal. They’re winning a partial and cruel victory even if they win. For the uncertainty over this decision — along the certainty that the right will continue to launch other legal challenges if they lose, because much of the right seems to live to kill Obamacare — is already destroying one of the ACA’s prime benefits, which is to give US citizens a sense of security, stability, and continuity about their access to healthcare.

Why are we to be denied this? Tens of millions of people in 37 states (those that will be directly affected if SCOTUS scuttles the premium subsidies that the suit claims are unconstitutional) now stand at risk of losing their healthcare or facing increases in premiums. My own family suffered a relatively minor version of this insecurity when we had to cancel a move from Vermont to Maine because Maine will be one of those states if SCOTUS rules against Obamacare.

The right is playing Russian roulette, only they hold their pistol, which they tirelessly reload when their longshot loads don’t fire, to the pulsing temples of their own constituents. They are perfectly willing and even eager to issue death sentences to people who work hard and pay taxes and simply cannot, lacking subsidies, afford healthcare in a system whose costs have run shamelessly out of control. The right is happy to have those people drop dead simply — preferably, it seems, after they’ve given every last cent and then some to a rapacious medical industry that refuses to be effectively regulated.

If you think this wild rhetoric, kindly read the second item below ( all three are from this week’s weekly briefing by the ACA Times), which shows that the right’s refusal to accept Obamacare Medicaid increases in 22 states is already causing 5,200 avoidable deaths each year.

Bill Would Address Impact of Possible ‘King’ Ruling – A Republican Congressman introduced legislation to help individuals who would lose their insurance subsidies if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs in the “King v. Burwell” case. A verdict in the case is expected by the end of June.acatimes.com/byr

Expanding Medicaid Could Save 5,200 Lives – The decision by 22 states not to expand Medicaid will result in 5,200 avoidable deaths each year, and hundreds of thousands of Americans not receiving needed medical care, says a White House Report. acatimes.com/djf

Hospital Bad Debt Declines in Expansion States – Unpaid bills declined at non-profit hospitals in states that expanded Medicaid during 2014, according to a study by Moody’s Investors Service. The reduction in bad debt averaged 13%, with some hospitals seeing a 40% decline. acatimes.com/xai

When does this stop? As a country we somehow take this ludicrous state of affairs as a given. Other countries simply cannot understand how we allow this. Neither can I.

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