You might think today's Supreme Court decision to uphold federal subsidies for Obamacare plans is mostly a big political win for the White House. Or you might think it's some kind of shot in the arm for poorer Americans. But the real victory cheers are going up on Wall Street and in the boardrooms of the biggest health insurers and hospital companies in America. Because today's high court ruling is really a win for corporate welfare.
But don't just take my word for it. Look at the shares of the big health conglomerates like HCA, Tenet Healthcare, and Community Health Systems, just to name a few. Those stocks are soaring on the news and are all much higher than they were in late April/early May when fears this decision might go the other way seemed to hit a fever pitch.
I spoke to a lot of legal experts over the past year about King vs. Burwell. Not one of them thought there was a very good chance the court would strike down these subsidies in the end. Most of them graded a de facto repeal of the ACA as a longshot. But a small number of investors clearly decided to hedge their bets while the smarter money stayed in the big health care stocks. And now that smarter money is cashing in big time. Power to the people! Er, I mean, power to the rich people.
What's so strange is seeing so many so-called "progressives" defending the ACA and cheering this decision. I thought progressives were supposed to be the opponents of big money interests and corporate welfare. But at more than $20 billion per year, Obamacare subsidy payments to the big hospitals and insurers amount to one of the biggest cases of corporate welfare of all time. And if the progressives truly want to shift to single payer health care, then this decision will make that a lot harder to achieve as already wealthy companies have more confidence than ever that they will remain a well compensated middle man in the ACA apparatus.
You have to hand it to President Obama's political operatives who have managed to package Obamacare as a program that's helps the poor and the middle class when it's already on track to become the greatest ever taxpayer giveaway to moneyed interests. Meanwhile, the ACA has never polled at or above 50% support from the American public, which makes this political achievement even more impressive. Even the GOP controlled Congress has ensured Obamacare stays in place by promising not to de-fund it despite it's Constitutionally guaranteed "power of the purse." Remember that all the Republican calls to repeal the ACA are meaningless if the leadership continues to be afraid to shut down the government over it.
And here's the most amazing part: not too long ago, the health insurance companies were one of the most hated industries in America. I think they still are, but you wouldn't think so now that everyone is talking as if the goal all along was to give that industry more business! I thought the point was to get people actual health care as opposed to a subsidized health policy, but what do I know? Every other private sector industry must be wondering how they can get the President of the United States to do them this kind of a favor too.
For now, we're seeing a bizzaro world scenario as left wingers and progressives are actually cheering a Supreme Court decision that protects massive taxpayer payments to rich corporations. You can spin this anyway you want to, but just don't say you don't believe in miracles.