NBC Fears Supreme Court Could Take Away ObamaCare 'Lifesaver' for Millions

On Wednesday's NBC Today, news anchor Natalie Morales warned viewers: "The U.S. Supreme Court today takes up a legal challenge that could doom the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare." In the report that followed, correspondent Pete Williams declared the high court would "determine whether millions of people will lose their health insurance."

Williams proclaimed: "For seven million low-income Americans, ObamaCare, and the federal subsidy that comes with it, is a lifesaver, cutting the cost of health insurance an average of 72%. The question for the Supreme Court, who's entitled to that subsidy?"

Highlighting a potential victim of any ruling against ObamaCare, Williams noted: "Jennifer Causer of Memphis, battling cystic fibrosis, vividly remembers the phone call that told her she was chosen for a transplant....Now she says without ObamaCare and the federal subsidy that comes with it, she could not afford her anti-rejection drugs."

A soundbite played of Causer: "I would end up like I was before and I would die."

Williams concluded: "The insurance industry warns that if the challengers succeed, ObamaCare would enter a death spiral. Rising costs for a smaller number of participants, causing the system to collapse."

What Williams failed to mention was that a ruling against the law would mean President Obama would have to go the Republican-led Congress to get a legislative fix to the problem. Millions of people would not necessarily lose their health insurance. However, the White House does want to give Republicans the chance to make any changes to ObamaCare.  

Unlike Today, ABC's Good Morning America and CBS This Morning only provided news briefs to the court case.

GMA's Amy Robach mentioned: "Today the Supreme Court justices will hear arguments in a case that has the potential to unravel President Obama's healthcare law. At issue is whether it's legal to give out subsidies in states where the federal government runs the insurance exchanges."

This Morning co-host Charlie Rose reported:

USA Today says the Supreme Court takes up the Affordable Care Act this morning. The focus is on four words in the ObamaCare law "established by the state." The Court must decide if that means tax subsidies only go to people enrolled on state exchanges. If the justices agree, more than 9 million people on federal exchanges could lose their tax credit.

Like Williams, both briefs ignored the fact that Congress could change the law to resolve the matter.

On Monday, only Today noticed that the Supreme Court was about to hear the ObamaCare case.

Here is a full transcript of the March 4 report from Williams:

7:13 AM ET

NATALIE MORALES: The U.S. Supreme Court today takes up a legal challenge that could doom the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare. NBC's Pete Williams is live in Washington with that. Pete, good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: ObamaCare's Tough Test; Supreme Court to Decide Who Should Get Subsidies]

PETE WILLIAMS: Natalie, good morning. Sometimes Supreme Court cases are about abstract ideas, but this one is very practical. It will determine whether millions of people will lose their health insurance.

For seven million low-income Americans, ObamaCare, and the federal subsidy that comes with it, is a lifesaver, cutting the cost of health insurance an average of 72%. The question for the Supreme Court, who's entitled to that subsidy?

ObamaCare opponents say the subsidies are only for insurance bought on a marketplace or exchange run by a state and not on the federal exchange, healthcare.gov, that operates in states that don't set up their own. It's a critical issue because only sixteen states have their own exchanges up and running. Everywhere else there's only the federal exchange.

Jennifer Causer of Memphis, battling cystic fibrosis, vividly remembers the phone call that told her she was chosen for a transplant.

JENNIFER CAUSER: And they said, "Well, we have a pair of lungs for you," and I just started crying.

WILLIAMS: Now she says without ObamaCare and the federal subsidy that comes with it, she could not afford her anti-rejection drugs.

JENNIFER CAUSER: I would end up like I was before and I would die.

WILLIAMS: The insurance industry warns that if the challengers succeed, ObamaCare would enter a death spiral. Rising costs for a smaller number of participants, causing the system to collapse. Natalie.

MORALES: Alright, Pete Williams outside the Supreme Court for us. Thank you, Pete.  

NB Daily Judiciary Health Care Medical Insurance NBC Today ObamaCare Video Natalie Morales Pete Williams

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