Big Obamacare case? What big Obamacare case?
Most Americans have heard little or nothing about a pending Supreme Court case that threatens to wreak havoc in many states' health insurance markets, cripple Obamacare and possibly affect 2016 political races, according to a new poll.
A total of 44 percent of people say they know "nothing at all" about the case known as King v. Burwell, and another 28 percent have heard only a little about that case, the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll found. (Tweet This)
Just 27 percent had heard something or a lot about the case, according to Kaiser, whose survey drew on a sample of 1,200 adults and has a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.
King v. Burwell hinges on a claim by plaintiffs that financial aid available to residents of 34 states served by the federal Obamacare marketplace HealthCare.gov is illegal.
Despite a widespread lack of awareness of the case, a solid majority of 63 percent want Congress to pass a law that reinstates the subsidies for Obamacare customers in the affected states if the Supreme Court takes them away.
That finding is consistent with the results of two other recent surveys which also showed strong support for the idea that Congress should create a fix for the high court case.
"You couldn't have found an issue that is more closely followed by the political community," said Mollyann Brodie, executive director of public opinion and survey research for the Kaiser Family Foundation. "But the American public doesn't really know it's happening."
"Then, when you describe the case, their instinct is that it should get fixed, that it's not fair," Brodie said. "It doesn't seem to make sense to the average person that residents in some states would get a benefit, and residents in other states wouldn't."
If the Supreme Court rules for the plaintiffs in King, only people in the 16 states and the District of Columbia that set up their own Obamacare exchanges would be eligible for tax credits that would reduce the cost of their monthly health plan premiums. Those tax credits are available to people with low and moderate incomes.
In states that have not set up their own exchanges, 55 percent of respondents told the Kaiser poll that their state should create their own exchanges to protect subsidies for residents if the Supreme Court rules they cannot be given to HealthCare.gov customers.
The next day that the Supreme Court could issue a decision in the case is Thursday. Experts agree that if the subsidies are ruled illegal in HealthCare.gov states, up to 8 million people would become uninsured by next year, and premium prices for individual health plans would rise dramatically.
But advocates for the plaintiffs in the case argue that the Affordable Care Act is clear in saying that subsidies can only be given to customers of a state-created exchange, and that any extension of the subsidies beyond those markets results in an illegal burden on the taxpayers forced to pay for that assistance.
The Kaiser poll also found that public opinion overall on Obamacare remains almost evenly split. A total of 42 percent have an unfavorable view of the law, and 39 percent have a favorable view.