The debate over the Affordable Care Act might not have the weight of 6.4 million subsidy-less people on its shoulders after the Supreme Court upheld a key piece of the law in Thursday's King v. Burwell decision, but it's anything but over. Republican presidential candidates already are using the decision to appeal to voters: If you don't like Obamacare, vote Republican.
The decision, framed as a decisive victory by Democrats and a bitter disappointment by Republicans, doesn't just move the health care debate forward a year. It also takes away an urgent need for reform that a King win would have created.
"I hope that our standard-bearer on the Republican side, whoever the presidential nominee will be, will bring up and decide on what our replacement plan would be and run on that. But it's going to be more difficult," Sen. Ron Johnson, who authored legislation to extend subsidies until after the election should the challengers to the law prevail, said in an interview after the decision.
"We're going to need a really good argument, a really strong replacement plan by our presidential nominee," he added.
There's also the potential for the decision to give Republican presidential candidates a leg up, said Doug Holtz-Eakin, president of the conservative American Action Forum. It prevents them from having to settle on a single response to King, but also gives them an easier path to navigate in their crusade against Obamacare.