The legal battle over whether Obamacare subsidies can legally go to customers in federally-run exchanges may be ongoing, but voters are siding against the Obama administration, according to a Tuesday poll.
The Morning Consult poll pelted registered voters with a bevy of questions about the two top court cases arguing that Obamacare subsidies can only legally go to customers in the 14 state-run Obamacare exchanges. Off the bat, 57 percent of registered voters have heard “not much” or “nothing at all” about the appeals court ruling which found the subsidies illegal.
The case centers around the requirement that subsidies go to exchanges that are “established by a state.” Two lawsuits have reached federal appeals courts, arguing that this means customers in federally-run exchanges through HealthCare.gov can’t receive subsidies; one court ruled the federal exchange subsidies illegal in Halbig v. Burwell; the other ruled in favor of the Obama administration that the subsidies are just fine in King v. Burwell.
The poll gave voters a brief summary of the split on the issue and asked which side they believed had the law correct. While 54 percent still said either that they didn’t know, or frankly, didn’t care, slightly more respondents said they believed that subsidies weren’t meant to go to states that didn’t create exchanges.
Just 22 percent of registered voters said they agreed more that the provision was a “drafting error,” while 25 percent said the provision “was written to limit subsidies to state-run exchanges.”
The “drafting error” argument took a serious hit, however, when recordings surfaced of a top Obamacare architect, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, admitting that the subsidies were reserved for state exchanges and reasoning that the restrictions were meant to incentive states into building their own health-care marketplaces. (RELATED: Obamacare Architect Says AGAIN That Subsidies Were Only Supposed To Go To State Exchanges)
That said, while more voters admit it’s likely that the Obama administration is handing out the premium subsidies in violation of Obamacare itself, a large majority believe the subsidies should go to customers in all 50 states. If the Supreme Court hears the case and decides that the text of the Affordable Care Act reserves the subsidies for state-run exchanges only, Congress may need to pass further changes to the health-care law to keep the subsidies in place.
Now the Obama administration is waiting to hear whether the D.C. appeals court, which ruled against the subsidies, will rehear the case with its full court, which it expects to be friendlier. (RELATED: Obama Admin Asks Federal Court To Revisit Potentially Deadly Obamacare Subsidy Ruling)
In the other pending case, the plaintiffs arguing that the subsidies are illegal have already asked the Supreme Court to take the case. (RELATED: Group Suing Over Federal Obamacare Subsidies Asks Supreme Court To Hear Case)