In the other 31 states, Obamacare is doing fine and is likely to keep doing fine in spite of whatever the Supreme Court rules in King. In those 31 states, they either have state exchanges that are unaffected by King or will quickly add a state wrapper to their federal exchange: no state politicians of any party are going to accept ObamaCare money to cover their Medicaid poor and deny exchange subsidies to their middle class.
But the politicians and Obamacare are now in much bigger trouble in the nineteen states with one-third of the population: Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming. If King brings down the hammer, will the politicians of the nineteen nullification states throw away the $40 billion in exchange subsidies to their middle-class citizens that are currently anticipated for 2016? That seems a very heavy political lift.
And I very much doubt that the King appellants will be able to round up their fifth vote: the Supreme Court would have to overrule long lines of statutory interpretation and break a great deal of administrative law in pieces to get there.
They might: this is a very partisan Supreme Court that follows the election returns.
But I think Roberts wishes to have a place in history different from that of MacReynolds.
the Supreme Court just agreed to review King v. Burwell, the Fourth Circuit’s decision upholding an IRS rule extending tax credits to federally established exchanges.... At least four justices... voted to take the case... The justices’ votes on whether to grant the case are decent proxies for how they’ll decide the case. The justices who agree with King wouldn’t vote to grant.... The justices who disagree with King... there are at least four such justices.... That means that either Chief Justice Roberts or Justice Kennedy will again hold the key vote. None of this bodes well for the government. That’s not to say the government can’t win. It might. As I’ve said many times, the statutory arguments cut in its favor. But the Court’s decision to grant King substantially increases the odds that the government will lose this case. The states that refused to set up their own exchange need to start thinking—-now—-about what to do if the Court releases a decision in June 2015 withdrawing tax credits from their citizens.