A Washington Post-ABC News poll released on June 8th, finds a strong majority of Americans oppose the Supreme Court taking action to block federal subsidies in states that didn’t set up their own health care exchanges. The survey found that 55 percent of Americans want the Supreme Court to maintain the federal subsidies for low and middle-income families, while only 38 percent of poll respondents want the court to rule against the subsidies in the pending King v Burwell court case.
Predictably, there was a discernible partisan divide on the issue of preserving federal health care subsidies. 65 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of Independents argued that the court should not take action to block health insurance subsidies. By contrast, only 34 percent of Republicans felt the same way, with 55 percent of GOP voters saying the court should repeal the subsidies.
In states that have not set up their own exchanges, 53 percent of voters favor keeping the subsidies to just 40 percent who want them eliminated. Although this is a solid majority of voters in those states, it is lower than the 58-33 support for keeping federal subsidies, expressed by voters in the mostly blue states that have set up their own exchanges. While those voters would not be directly affected by the coming Supreme Court ruling, they nevertheless want the federal subsidies to remain intact for their fellow Americans.
The American people have expressed an ambivalent and sometimes contradictory attitude towards Obamacare. Nevertheless, when push comes to shove, it is clear that a decisive majority of Americans want the Supreme Court to leave the health care law alone. The federal health care subsidies made possible by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provide direct benefits to 6.4 million people in 34 states.
Since Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life, they are not sensitive to public opinion in the same way that elected officials are. What the American people think is of little consequence to the members of the court.
However, should the ideologically partisan right-wing justices on the court decide to end the federal Obamacare subsidies, they will create an enormous headache for conservative lawmakers, who will then have to deal with the fallout from the court’s decision.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.