Governors from both parties surveyed by Politico
appear to be indifferent to the possibility that the Supreme Court could deal a major blow to Obamacare if it rules that subsidies are not valid for those enrolled on the federal healthcare exchange.
At a meeting of the nation's governors in Washington this week, more than a dozen governors from across the country canvassed by Politico appeared to take a "wait-and-see" approach.
"For some Republican governors it was a shrug of indifference. They say the onus falls on President Barack Obama and Congress to figure out what to do if the Supreme Court invalidates Affordable Care Act subsidies in their states. And if Obamacare falls apart, well, they say, good riddance," Politico said.
Politico said others, such as Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio GOP Gov. John Kasich, were simply uncertain.
The Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments in the case of King v. Burwell
next week with a decision likely to come late in June.
The case threatens to strike a blow to the president's signature healthcare law if the court rules that subsidies are only valid for exchanges run by states. Roughly 7 million people stand to lose their financial assistance.
"If the White House loses in the Supreme Court, the consequences would play out amid the intensity of a presidential election, and in swing states that will host some of 2016's most competitive Senate and gubernatorial races," Politico said.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, said that the potential fallout from a decision in the plaintiffs' favor has "been probably the most frequent topic of conversation," among governors.
The administration has repeatedly said it is confident it will prevail in court, refusing to discuss what it would do in the instance that it didn't.
Meanwhile, Republicans in the House and the Senate are working on plans to replace Obamacare.
"It's way too early to respond to a Supreme Court ruling which hasn't been — in which there has not been a conclusion," North Carolina GOP Gov. Pat McCrory told Politico. "The nation and the states don't have a B plan. …We would like to have a plan. We're still trying to figure out the current Obamacare details because there's a lot that changes every day."
Politico said Walker has the most at stake because he built his own health reform agenda in part on the Obamacare exchange to offer subsidized insurance to tens of thousands of the state's residents who are just above the poverty level. But he has also been critical of the president's healthcare law.
"No matter what you believe about Obamacare, if that were to happen there needs to be a reasonable bridge," Walker told Politico. "We're going to talk about it, we're going to advocate for it. But that responsibility doesn't fall in the hands of the states or the governors. It falls in the hands of the leaders right here in Washington."
Governors whose states are running their own exchanges expressed relief that they will not be affected by the outcome of the decision.
"I made a decision early on that we would be a state-based exchange because I felt it was in Nevadans' best interest to run their own," New Mexico GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval told Politico. "I'm just pleased," he added, "that we don't have the anxiety of the outcome of King v. Burwell."
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