The Supreme Court begins hearing arguments today in a case that could result in people in 34 states losing subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, the New York Times reports. But if the court opts to take what one Democrat calls "a wrecking ball to a major part of the Affordable Care Act," there doesn't appear to be a backup plan. "If they rule against us, we'll have to take a look at what our options are," President Obama told Reuters. "But I'm not going to anticipate … bad law." Why the apparent lack of contingency efforts? The administration doesn't want to send the message to the court that there's a viable way around this issue and feels that anything it does to plan would simply be "politically unworkable and ineffective," per the Times. Estimates vary, but between 6 million and 9.3 million people will lose the subsidies if the plaintiffs prevail (the court's decision is expected in late June, Reuters notes).
The case revolves around what Politico describes as "a four-word phrase in the law [that] restricts the money to people living in states running their own exchanges." "This idea that they're not planning for this is more than a little absurd," the president of the American Health Policy Institute tells Politico. "There are things they can do." In fact, in Sunday's Washington Post, Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch, Lamar Alexander, and John Barrasso touted their "bridge" plan to provide financial help to families during the "transitional period" and help states set up "better, more competitive health insurance markets," though they don't get into specifics. "We'll come up with a way of making sure people don't suffer," Hatch said last week, per Politico. In the meantime, doctors are hoarding free drug samples and moving up appointments and surgeries for patients, Reuters notes. (Read more White House stories.)