If ObamaCare is struck down, would Americans miss it?

The president's health-care overhaul is persistently unpopular. And yet, its many benefits might be missed if the law is voided by the Supreme Court

More than half of Americans disapprove of President Obama's health-care overhaul, which may be struck down by the Supreme Court on Thursday.
(Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

This Thursday, the Supreme Court is expected to hand down a ruling on ObamaCare, a law opposed by 56 percent of Americans, according to a new Reuters-Ipsos poll. However, when the law is broken down into its component parts, a majority of respondents — and even a majority of Republicans — support almost all the main provisions, such as subsidies for the uninsured and a ban on insurance companies denying coverage to those with preexisting conditions. During oral arguments in March, the conservative members of the Supreme Court seemed skeptical of the constitutionality of the individual mandate — a deeply unpopular measure that requires most Americans to purchase health insurance — but the law's supporters say the more popular provisions cannot survive without the mandate. If the court strikes down all or part of the law, will Americans miss it?

Yes. ObamaCare addresses a major social problem: If the Supreme Court eviscerates the law, the country will become familiar with "the Joni Mitchell Rule, named after the folk singer who instructed us that 'you don't know what you've got till it's gone,'" says E.J. Dionne at The Washington Post. ObamaCare will help 30 million uninsured Americans get vital coverage, reduce insurance costs for businesses, and fix an out-of-control insurance market that's only getting more expensive. ObamaCare is so much more than the individual mandate — "it's about beginning to bring an end to the scandal of a very rich nation leaving so many of its citizens without basic health coverage."

"Will we love the health-care law if it dies?"

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No. ObamaCare is reviled for a reason: ObamaCare, needlessly enacted during a deep economic recession, is "deeply unpopular with the public," and it's easy to see why, says John Steele Gordon at Commentary. If the Supreme Court strikes down the law, including a provision requiring many small businesses to provide their employees with insurance, employers would celebrate the lifting of the "biggest government-mandated labor cost hike in American history." Free of uncertainty, businesses would hire and grow — and that would be a development to celebrate.

"Killing ObamaCare could help the president"

And Democrats have only themselves to blame: No one would miss ObamaCare because Democrats "failed to do a critical part of the job: To explain and defend to the public not only how the law works, but the constitutional case for upholding it," says Simon Lazarus at The New Republic. Republicans have used "legally flimsy but broadly digestible soundbites" to attack ObamaCare, and now a full 70 percent of Americans think the mandate is unconstitutional. And now, if the court strikes down the law, Democrats will have lost not only the health-care fight, but the argument that Congress is free to to address big problems with big solutions.

"The White House's disastrous decision not to defend the constitutionality of Obamacare"

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