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Obama warns Supreme Court could upend Obamacare

President Obama on Monday gave a stern warning that if the Supreme Court rules against the system of subsidies holding up Obamacare, it "would be hard to fix."

In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court could rule that only customers in state-run Obamacare marketplaces are eligible for federal subsidies. If the court does agree with the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell, it could make the health care coverage unaffordable for millions. The ruling could effectively upend the entire health care law, creating an even bigger rift between the mostly-blue states that have embraced aspects of Obamacare and the red states that haven't.

Even so, the White House has refused to put forward a "plan B" to lay out how it would respond to such a ruling. Asked why not, Mr. Obama effectively likened the health care law to Humpty Dumpty -- once it's broken, it's hard to put back together.

"I want to just make sure that everybody understands that you have a model that -- where all the pieces connect," he said during a press conference from Krün, Germany, where he's attending the G-7 summit.

"And there are a whole bunch of scenarios, not just with relation to health care, but all kinds of stuff that I do, where if somebody does something that doesn't make any sense, then, it's hard to fix. And this would be hard to fix."

That said, Mr. Obama added, "There's no reason to have to do it. It doesn't need fixing."

The president criticized the Supreme Court for even taking up the case, which hinges on the interpretation of one sentence in sweeping health care law: Section 1311 of the law says the federal government will give subsidies to eligible consumers who buy insurance from an exchange "established by the State."

Conservatives argue that Congress explicitly denied subsidies to any customers who buy insurance on the federally-run marketplace. However, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have acknowledged that this was never their intention.

"There is no reason why the existing exchanges should be overturned through a court case," Mr. Obama said Monday. "It has been well documented that those who passed this legislation never intended for folks who were going through the federal exchange not to have their citizens get subsidies.

"So this should be an easy case," he continued. "Frankly, it probably shouldn't even have been taken up. And, you know, since we're going to get a ruling pretty quick, I think it's important for us to go ahead and assume that the Supreme Court is going to do what most legal scholars who've looked at this would expect them to do."

If they don't, Mr. Obama added, "I should mention that if it didn't, Congress could fix this whole thing with a one sentence provision."

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, retorted that Mr. Obama shouldn't be "bullying" the Supreme Court.

"The president should spend his time preparing for the reality that the court may soon rule against his decision to illegally issue tax penalties and subsidies on Americans in two-thirds of the country," he said in a statement. "Let's be clear: if the Supreme Court rules against the Administration, Congress will not pass a so called 'one-sentence' fake fix."

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