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Jonathan Bernstein

How the Obamacare Subsidies Battle Could Play Out

Republicans will need a legislative strategy.
The fix is just one page.

The fix is just one page.

Photographer: Darren McCollester/Getty Images

We don't know whether the Supreme Court's decision in the King case will be to take away subsidies for people who signed up for insurance through, the Obamacare exchanges. But if that is what happens, the legislative politics of a fix are increasingly clear.

The case is about whether Congress did or didn't authorize the Affordable Care Act to contain the same set of subsidies for people in states using federally run exchanges as it does for those in states that run their own exchanges. If the court rules against the Obama administration, millions of people in more than half of the states will lose subsidies and may drop their insurance. Even worse, if healthy people flee (as is likely) and those with immediate medical needs remain, the markets in those states could collapse as insurance companies raise premiums to make up for the lost customers.