President Obama said Wednesday that the current Supreme Court case against his signature healthcare law could be its final significant legal challenge.
“I think this is sort of the last gasp of folks who've been fighting against this for ideological reasons,” Obama said in an interview with CNN.
The case, King v. Burwell, could eliminate tax credits for nearly 8 million people living in states that declined to set up their own ObamaCare exchange.
Administration officials have repeatedly stressed that a ruling against ObamaCare — which would impact 34 states — would cripple the law. As Republicans scramble to create a back-up plan in case King v. Burwell goes their way, the Obama administration has maintained that there are no policy measures to limit the potential fallout.
“The truth is, is that there aren't that many options available if, in fact, they don't have tax credits,” Obama said. “They can't afford to get the health insurance that's being provided out there.”
The Supreme Court case, which will likely be decided in June, rests on the language in ObamaCare related to insurance subsidies, which the president defended as “pretty straightforward.”
Conservatives argue that the law’s wording indicates that people can only receive subsidies if they bought insurance through an exchange “established by the state.” Democrats have said the four-word clause has been taken out of context, arguing that they never intended to limit subsidies to only some states.
“I don't think the Supreme Court is going to adopt the arguments of those who are arguing that, somehow, tax credits given to people who live in Texas don't apply where somebody who lives in Massachusetts does get the tax credits,” Obama said, repeating his previous explanation of the origin of the King v. Burwell controversy.
Obama stressed that the healthcare law is already working to expand access and reduce costs for millions of people in the U.S. — something he believes the Supreme Court justices are likely to take into account.
“I get letters every day from people who say, you know what, the Affordable Care Act saved my life, or saved my kid's life because I got insurance,” he said.
“We hear stories about that all the time and I think that will be factored in when the Supreme Court takes a look at this case.”