Yet seen another way, it's entirely understandable she might think people won't actually lose their coverage—Republicans in Congress have worked to signal that very message to Supreme Court justices. They want to communicate, as Senate Republican Conference Chair John Thune told Roll Call recently, that wavering justices needn't worry about any consequences of undermining Obamacare because the GOP will have an alternative ready to go.
The plaintiffs themselves appear to be under the impression that an outside actor will be able to step in and fix any problems that arise, arguing in their brief that if the Court rules in their favor, state lawmakers might be counted on to pick up the pieces. "And, indeed, if the original 'deal' is restored by this Court," they write, "states may well establish exchanges going forward."
Never mind that at this point there's no reliable way for states to step in and fix things. (The Wall Street Journal has a good rundown of the political and practical obstacles to reworking the exchanges.) And never mind that the picture doesn't look any rosier in Congress, where even Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, one of the three authors of the GOP's proposed alternative to Obamacare, admits the proposal is going nowhere for the next two years.
The Huffington Post's Jeffrey Young and Jonathan Cohn put the notion in perspective last week, writing that "congressional Republicans want Americans—especially the nine on the Supreme Court—to think the GOP can do in less than five months what it took the Democrats decades to achieve."
That message may have penetrated as far as the plaintiffs themselves, or at least one of them. Levy suggested that if her case prevails at the Supreme Court, the situation will be likely fixed at the local level. "I think [Virginia's Democratic Gov.] Terry McAuliffe wants to expand Medicaid," she told Mother Jones.
In fact, a group of GOP legislators from her state—the same people she's counting on to fix everything if her case is successful—filed their own brief, boasting in a press release of the consequences that a win could have. "Millions of people who would otherwise have gotten the illegal subsidies in a federal exchange would not get them, and many may simply decide to drop out of the exchange," they wrote. "Rates on those remaining in the exchange would rise, causing a 'death spiral,' with increasing numbers of people dropping out and continued rate increases."
Such lawmakers are not people likely to rush in and help with state exchanges. And if that's who Levy's counting on, she may be sorely disappointed.
If there are any lingering misconceptions about what the Republican operatives who helped envision the legal theory behind the Supreme Court case really want, a quote by Competitive Enterprise Institute Chairman Michael Greve, should dispel it. (It was CEI that went and sought out prospective plaintiffs like Levy—individuals who could reasonably claim to have been negatively affected by Obamacare—to launch its attack.) Greve spoke of gutting Obamacare by any means necessary, calling it "a matter of political hygiene."