George Graham

The Obamacare Mess



Let’s face it, a lot of Americans don’t want health insurance. They want to gamble on their health. Sandra and I knew someone who wouldn’t go to the doctor even though she had Medicare. She didn’t feel sick so why would she see a doctor, she said. She wasn’t that old, and she certainly seemed strong and healthy.

She’s gone now. We miss her. A lot. We wish she had gone to see a doctor before it was too late.

A lot of people. mostly the young and robust, share this view. Why do they need health insurance? They don’t feel sick.

That’s the root cause of Obamacare’s unpopularity. For the vast health insurance program to work, everybody must pay into it. And the law makes that compulsory. A lot of young, healthy people resent it.

However, the law also provides federal subsidies for anybody who doesn’t have enough money to afford the premiums.

At least that’s what President Obama intended.

But Republicans insist that’s no what the law says. They claim federal subsidies apply only in states that have set up health insurance exchanges in accordance with the law. In states that rejected Obamacare – read that as red states – federal subsidies are illegal, the Republicans say.

And because of all the writing and rewriting that finally produced the voluminous Affordable Care Act, the wording does leave room for argument.

The health-care law says people qualify for tax credits when they buy insurance on online exchanges “established by the state.” And only 14 states have set up their own exchanges. In the other states, it’s the federal government that runs the exchanges.

The US Supreme Court is about to hear the Republicans’ arguments.

The justices are considering an appeal that would outlaw federal health care subsidies in the 36 states  that refused to set up Obamacare exchanges.

A decision is expected by Monday – the day before the midterm elections.

It’s a decision that will have massive repercussions. Writing in Bloomberg News today, Greg Stohr explains:

The tax credits have implications well beyond the 4.6 million people who receive them in those states. A high court decision against the administration would have ripple effects, undercutting other parts of the Affordable Care Act and potentially destabilizing insurance markets across the nation.

With the  millions now covered by Obamacare, you can imagine the chaos the justices would cause by striking down one of its core provisions.

According to the Bloomberg article, it would mean that more than half of the 7.3 million people who have bought Obamacare policies aren’t entitled to the subsidies they are receiving, for one thing.

What the ultra-conservative Supreme Court will do is anyone’s guess, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they sabotage the law.

Click for the Bloomberg article.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for