“The End Of America As We Know It”: Conservative Media React To Supreme Court's Health Care Decision

Right-Wing Commentators Savage Chief Justice Roberts As “Scumbag,” “Disgrace” For Preserving Affordable Health Care For Millions

Conservative media were outraged after the Supreme Court ruled to uphold health insurance tax credits for millions of Americans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), just as Congress intended.

Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Tax Credits For All Americans

Supreme Court Upholds The Affordable Care Act. On June 25, the Supreme Court upheld a provision of the Affordable Care Act that allows for tax credits to aid millions of Americans who obtained health insurance through the federal exchanges, as opposed to those operated by their state. According to The New York Times:

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that President Obama's health care law may provide nationwide tax subsidies to help poor and middle-class people buy health insurance.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the majority opinion in the 6-to-3 decision. The court's three most conservative members -- Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. -- dissented.

The case concerned a central part of the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Obama's signature legislative achievement. The law created marketplaces, known as exchanges, to allow people who lack insurance to shop for individual health plans. [The New York Times, 6/25/15]

Conservative Media Decry Continuance Of Tax Credits, Lash Out At Chief Justice Roberts

Fox's Karl Rove: Health Care Decision Is “An Act Of Judicial Activism.” Responding to the health care decision on Fox News' America's Newsroom, network contributor and former Bush administration advisor Karl Rove deemed it to be “an act of judicial activism” from the Supreme Court designed to “protect the Affordable Care Act.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 6/25/15]

National Review's Hillyer: Justice Roberts Is “A Disgrace.” On National Review Online's The Corner blog, contributing editor Quin Hillyer posted a brief but fierce attack on Roberts shortly after the decision was released:

With today's Obamacare decision, John Roberts confirms that he has completely jettisoned all pretense of textualism. He is a results-oriented judge, period, ruling on big cases based on what he thinks the policy result should be or what the political stakes are for the court itself. He is a disgrace. That is all. [National Review Online, 6/25/15]

Fox's Andrew Napolitano: Chief Justice Continues To “Undermine His Own Credibility. Appearing on America's Newsroom, Fox senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano said that Chief Justice John Roberts had “resorted to a nearly unheard of construction in order to save the statute,” going on: "[Roberts] will undermine his own credibility as a fair-minded jurist, because he has reached to bizarre and odd contortions in order to save this statute twice." [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 6/25/15]

Limbaugh: Health Care Decision Is “An Absolute Disaster.” Rush Limbaugh lamented that the Supreme Court's decision was “an absolute disaster” and wondered “what does [this] mean for the rule of law?” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show6/25/15]

MRC's Dan Gainor: “Scumbag Roberts” Was “An Awful Pick.” After the decision was released, the Media Research Center VP Dan Gainor tweeted that the “scumbag” Chief Justice Roberts -- appointed by George W. Bush -- was “an awful pick” for the court: 

[Twitter.com, 6/25/15

Fox's Charles Payne: ACA Will “Cost A Fortune” And Is “Another Giant Step Toward Banana Republic.” Responding to the court's decision, Fox Business Network host Charles Payne tweeted that the health care law will “cost a fortune” and that upholding the subsidies is “another giant step toward Banana Republic.”

[Twitter.com, 6/25/15; Twitter.com, 6/25/15]

Fox's Todd Starnes: Supreme Court Ruled That “You Can't Keep Your Constitution.” Fox News contributor Todd Starnes commented on the decision by claiming it meant that the Supreme Court had ruled that “you can't keep your Constitution.”

[Twitter.com, 6/25/15]

Ingraham Slams “Rubio-Ryan Leadership.” In a tweet, Laura Ingraham lamented that the “GOP now has #Obamacare , #Obamatrade and #ObamaAmnesty” and attacked the “Rubio-Ryan leadership.”

[Twitter.com, 6/25/15]

Iowa Radio Host Mickelson: “The Supreme Court Has Now Just Started To Read Obama's Mind Rather Than The Law.” On the June 25 edition of The Jan Mickelson Show, Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson claimed the Supreme Court “invented a new doctrine in Obamacare” and “has now just started to read Obama's mind rather than the law.” [WHO Radio, The Jan Mickelson Show, 6/25/15]

Breitbart.com's Shapiro: “Words Don't Mean Anything.” Responding to the decision in a series of tweets, Breitbart.com editor-at-large Ben Shapiro wrote, “Words don't mean anything. Laws don't mean anything.” Shapiro went on to criticize Justice Roberts, tweeting that he was a “disastrous pick” for the Supreme Court.*

[Twitter.com, 6/25/15; Twitter.com, 6/25/15]

Fox's Andrea Tantaros: With ACA Decision, Justice Roberts Is A “Water Boy For The Welfare State.” Fox News host Andrea Tantaros responded to the decision by suggesting that it meant Justice John Roberts “is now just the water boy for the welfare state.”

[Twitter.com, 6/25/15]

Breitbart.com's John Nolte: "'I Meant To Say That' Is Now Law."  Breitbart.com contributor John Nolte tweeted that the decision means "'I meant to say that' is now law."

[Twitter.com, 6/25/15]

Fox's Kurtz Asks If Obama “Invite[s] John Roberts Over For Popcorn.” Fox News host and media analyst Howard Kurtz tweeted that this decision marks the second time “the chief justice has saved Obamacare,” and asked if “Obama invite[s] John Roberts over for popcorn & a movie?”

[Twitter.com, 6/25/15

Matthew Vadum: Decision Is Roberts Court's “Dred Scott,” “Treason.” In a series of tweets, senior editor of the Capital Research Center Matthew Vadum slammed the decision and compared it to a legal confirmation of slavery, calling it “the Roberts court's second Dred Scott decision,” “third world bullshit” and “Treason.”

[Twitter.com, 6/25/15; 6/25/15]

Katie Pavlich: Jonathan Gruber Wins. Townhall editor and Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich tweeted that with the decision, MIT health care economist Jonathan Gruber and the President “win.”

[Twitter.com, 6/25/15]

John Podhoretz: Jonathan Gruber “Giggling” After Decision. In a series of tweets, Commentary editor John Podhoretz said the decision was “very good news for people who don't think things should mean what they say,” and that the MIT economist was “giggling” at the news.

[Twitter.com, 6/25/15; 6/25/15]

Fox's Stuart Varney: Supreme Court Has "Taken The Political Position That Obamacare Is Good." On Fox Business' Varney & Company, host Stuart Varney described the Supreme Court as “Obamacare supporters,” adding, “Regardless of what the law says” the court "[has] taken a political position that Obamacare is good and we're going to preserve it." [Fox Business, Varney & Company, 6/25/15]

Fox's The Five: Decision Furthers “Judicial Activism,” Chief Justice Roberts “Soils The Robe.” Fox co-hosts Kimberly Guilfoyle and Greg Gutfeld criticized the Supreme Court's decision upholding the health care law's tax credits. Guilfoyle claimed “this has been a very active court in terms of judicial activism,” and Gutfeld said that “John Roberts soils the robe.” [Fox News, The Five6/25/15]

Millions of Americans Would Have Become Uninsured Without The ACA's Subsidies

Urban Institute: 8.2 Million Americans Could Become Uninsured If Court Rules In Favor Of The Plaintiffs In King. According to a January analysis of the potential consequences of King conducted by the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, if the court strikes down the subsidies, “8.2 million more people would be uninsured than would be the case with the financial assistance” previously provided:

However, if the Supreme Court rules in favor of King and federal tax credits and cost-sharing reductions are eliminated in these states, health coverage would be dramatically different. About 8.2 million more people would be uninsured than would be the case with the financial assistance provided under the ACA as currently implemented. The nongroup market would only cover about 4.5 million people, far less than the 14.2 million enrollees with the tax credits and even less than the 7.3 million absent the ACA at all.

Medicaid and CHIP [Children's Health Insurance Plan] enrollment would be about 500,000 lower without tax credits and cost-sharing reductions. Many children eligible for Medicaid or CHIP have parents eligible for marketplace tax credits under the current implementation. Without tax credits, fewer parents would seek marketplace coverage and, as a result, fewer children would be screened for and enrolled in public insurance. [Urban Institute, January 2015]

New York Times: At Least 7.5 Million Could Lose Their Subsidies. According to The New York Times, “if the court rules against the Obama administration in the King v. Burwell case, about 7.5 million people could lose their subsidies in 34 states that use the federal health care marketplace.”

[The New York Times, 3/3/15]

National Women's Law Center: Women Would Be Disproportionately Impacted By Loss of Subsidies. According to analysis from the National Women's Law Center (NWLC), women would be disproportionately impacted by the loss of subsidies should the court rule against them in King:

According to our analysis, nearly seven million women, including those already enrolled, are eligible for tax credits in the federally-facilitated Marketplaces. These seven million women are at risk of losing the financial help they need to buy health insurance coverage.

  • The vast majority of women eligible for financial help live in states with federally-facilitated Marketplaces. Across the country, over nine million women are eligible for financial help, but nearly seven million of these women live in states with federally-facilitated Marketplaces. These women are at risk of losing their access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance just because of where they live.
  • Women of color would be disproportionately affected. Of the nearly seven million women at risk of losing their eligibility for financial help, approximately half (3.4 million) are women of color.

o This includes 1.8 million Latinas, 1.1 million African American women, 250,000 Asian women, and 106,000 Native American women.

  • Over two million of the women at risk live in just two states.

o Over 1.2 million women in Texas and over 900,000 women in Florida are at risk of losing access to affordable health coverage.

o Other states with the largest numbers of eligible women include Georgia, North Carolina and Illinois. [National Women's Law Center, 2/23/15]

Pediatricians And Family Physicians: Without Subsidies, “Up To 5 Million Children Could Lose Access To Affordable Insurance Coverage Based On The Happenstance Of Geography.” A brief filed by pediatricians, family physicians, and children's health advocates points out the devastating effect the lack of subsidies could also have on the continued vitality of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). As the brief explains, the challengers' argument would also disallow the use of the federal exchanges as a backstop for CHIP recipients, but "[n]othing in the program's history or the proceedings surrounding CHIP reauthorization suggest that Congress had such a counterintuitive result in mind, and no sound policy reason supports it". [Brief For The American Academy Of Pediatrics, American Academy Of Family Physicians, Children's Health Fund, Et Al. As Amici Curiae In Support Of Respondents, 1/28/15, via Media Matters]

New York Times' The Upshot: Court's Decision On Subsidies Could “Deepen A National Health Divide.” A March 4 article for the New York Times' The Upshot blog explained that a ruling against the ACA's subsidies had “the power to deepen a national health divide”:

But a ruling for the King plaintiffs could make things even more disparate than they were before the law passed -- in addition to the new taxes, new insurance regulations could mean skyrocketing individual insurance premiums in states that lose their subsidies. That could cause even people who had bought their own insurance before the law to be priced out of the market.

The new policy universe created by the law means the court can't just turn the clock back to 2009. If insurance subsidies are eliminated, a new era will begin in which, instead of a more uniform health care system, Obamacare will wind up bringing one that is more unequal than ever before. [The New York Times, 3/4/15]

*CORRECTION: This item originally misattributed Ben Shapiro's 2012 reaction to the upholding of the ACA's individual mandate as his reaction to the upholding of the tax credits.