President Obama is still pretty satisfied with the health-care law, even while he warns that an impending Supreme Court case could ruin it all.
In an interview with ABC News’ medical editor Dr. Richard Besser Wednesday morning, Obama said he’d rate Obamacare as an eight out of ten.
“And the reason I don’t put it at a 10 is because you can always improve something,” Obama said.
Obamacare is famously unpopular with the American public. It’s been underwater in the Kaiser Family Foundation’s monthly tracking poll in all but one month since 2011. Polls have consistently found that voters see the law unfavorably, with Rasmussen Reports most recently finding that 52 percent dislike the law on the five-year anniversary of its passage. (RELATED: Voters Don’t Like Obamacare And Probably Never Will)
That said, Obama’s happy with the health-care law as his administration is implementing it — but possibly not as it was written. He lambasted the Supreme Court case King v. Burwell, which argues that the IRS has improperly issued regulations that extend premium subsidies in the form of tax credits to federal Obamacare exchanges, when the text of the law restricts those to state exchanges alone.
“If the Supreme Court made a ruling that said that folks who have federal exchanges don’t get the tax credits, what you’d end up seeing is millions of people losing their health insurance,” President Obama said. “The truth is there aren’t that many options available if they don’t have tax credits, they can’t afford to get the health insurance that’s being provided out there.”
Obama and Health and Human Services secretary Sylvia Burwell have maintained that the administration has no back-up plan if the Supreme Court rules that subsidies to HealthCare.gov are illegal — although Forbes has reported that there may be a contingency plan in place. (RELATED: Report: Obamacare Backup Plan Is To ‘Declare’ HealthCare.gov A Contractor For States)
Congressional Republicans say they’ll have a plan to fix the subsidy problem ready by the expected ruling in June, just in case.
Obama also touted the Medicaid expansion, which has been rejected by just under half of the states, and argued that the remaining hold-out states, mostly Republican-controlled, would benefit from signing on.
“There are millions of more people that could be helped, and it won’t cost the state anything…we’re just seeing some stubbornness that’s really based on ideology not on wise public health policy that is preventing most people in most states from getting the Medicaid that would save the state money in the long term,” the president said.
While the federal governments pays the full cost of expanding Medicaid as part of Obamacare during the first three years, the state will increasingly be responsible for a portion of the costs and will pay 10 percent of the expansion cost each year by 2020.