Congressional GOP plans to continue health law subsidies

18 Jun 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Congressional GOP plans to continue health law subsidies.

WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders are laying out a plan to temporarily continue health care subsidies for millions of people should the Supreme Court annul the aid. In a recent interview with the Des Moines Register, Hillary Clinton outlined several elements of Obamacare that she said she would seek to change as president.The 6.4 million Obamacare customers who are risk of losing financial aid from a pending Supreme Court case would end up paying an average of $3,300 more annually for their health insurance if subsidies are taken away, a new analysis finds. (Tweet This) That kind of sticker shock in turn could lead to many of those HealthCare.gov enrollees dropping their coverage instead of trying to dig deeper into their wallets, the Avalere Health report released Tuesday says. GOP senators said the approach they discussed Wednesday would erase parts of the 2010 statute that Republicans have found most distasteful, including requirements that most people purchase health insurance and most companies provide it to workers. Her proposals illustrate how the fiscal impact of the law could increase significantly from what was expected when the legislation passed in March 2010.

If the court voids a federal rule allowing subsidies in states that use the federal insurance marketplace, many Republicans said, they would support a temporary continuation of subsidies for people with low or moderate incomes. “Our goal is to protect people, not the law,” said Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, who has been charged by his party with devising a possible legislative response to the court decision, which is expected by the end of this month. Burwell guts the federal subsidies for states in the federal exchanges. “This will be a discussion on the progress the working group and leadership have made on a response plan,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). “You should not expect a final plan to be released today.” It’s still a significant development, however. Such an effort would be sure to encounter solid Democratic opposition and a veto from the president, who has championed the law’s extension of health coverage to millions. Clinton cited was “how to fix the family glitch.” In short, if an individual qualifies for “affordable” health insurance through an employer, that person’s family will not qualify for federal insurance subsidies–even if the employer does not offer family coverage or if family coverage is unaffordable for the household. People in the 32 other states at risk from the case, who all rely on the federal Obamacare exchange for enrollment services, would see average premium increases of anywhere from $5,100 annually in Wyoming to $2,500 in several other states.

The dollar amounts are equal to the annual value of the tax credits that most Obamacare customers receive to help pay for their coverage—an average of $272 per month. GOP leaders are hoping to use a court victory by conservatives challenging a key girder of Obama’s law to take the political offensive against the statute, and to avoid blame from voters should the subsidies be erased. Barrasso said. “We want to provide a temporary transition while this is relitigated in the 2016 elections — and give the new president time to come in and bring a new solution forward.” Republicans mocked Mr. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) met with several GOP senators Tuesday — including Orrin Hatch of Utah, John Cornyn of Texas and John Thune of South Dakota — to discuss the issue.

Burwell. “Doing nothing is not an option,” said Senator Bill Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana, who last week introduced a bill that would provide money to help people buy insurance with much less federal regulation. “We cannot sit idly by as millions of Americans lose their health insurance.” House Republicans have voted more than 50 times to repeal all or part of the Affordable Care Act, but have had difficulty agreeing on an alternative. While some congressional Democrats have attempted to argue since then that the provision, as codified by the Internal Revenue Service, was “simply incongruent” with the text, or a “wrong interpretation of the law,” the legislative history indicates otherwise. Leaving the meeting with Boehner Tuesday, Cornyn said: “We do have a number of contingency plans to make sure we protect the people who would be hurt if Obamacare is struck down yet again by the Supreme Court.” Senate Republicans were also planning to discuss King v. Republicans acknowledged that they had not made final decisions on their legislation and were continuing to piece together a plan that could garner solid GOP support, despite months of preparations for the upcoming court ruling. “We’re just talking through the options.

Burwell at a party lunch today, according to a senior GOP aide, though they were expected to focus on messaging, not potential legislative responses. When Congress considered the legislation in 2010, the bill needed to adhere to President Barack Obama’s September 2009 pledge that it would “cost around $900 billion over 10 years.” But to keep the total cost of insurance subsidies—the “gross cost of coverage provisions” in Table 4 here—under $1 trillion, lawmakers made numerous tough choices. Michael Cannon, the Cato Institute health-care studies director who helped craft the argument, has said that the federal government is illegally taxing Americans to subsidize HealthCare.gov customers who get the subsidies.

Underscoring their difficulties in finding unity, several GOP lawmakers have introduced competing plans and some conservatives say the subsidies should be completely ended, not extended, and the entire law dismantled. “I do not believe we should extend subsidies. To pay for higher levels of upfront spending on insurance subsidies, Congress included provisions that slow their growth after 2019—a back-dated reckoning that future Congresses, and families, will have to contend with. Some states have allowed insurers to file two sets of proposed rates for 2016: for a ruling that leaves HealthCare.gov subsidies intact and for a ruling against them.

Of the Senate seats up for election next year, 24 are held by Republicans, and 22 of those are in federal exchange states that could lose their subsidies. In the 34 states likeliest to be hit hardest should the justices erase those subsidies, about 6.4 million people receive the aid, averaging $272 monthly, according to the Health and Human Services Department. Asked if she hoped the court would rule for the plaintiffs, Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, paused a moment, then said: “Yes, I guess I do.

Avalere’s analysis found that about 2.3 million customers who would lose subsidies were uninsured in 2013, while 2 million or so others had been covered by employer-based insurance. Three HealthCare.gov states, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Arkansas, have taken action to protect their residents’ subsidies by proposing to establish their own Obamacare exchanges. Moreover, to the extent that skeptics have likened Obamacare to a subprime mortgage—with “teaser” provisions passed in 2010 and a balloon payment still to come—the long lists of additional spending proposals, with few instances of budgetary restraint, will reinforce those comparisons. Johnson, who faces a serious challenge from former Senator Russ Feingold, a Democrat, in his bid for re-election in 2016. “New enrollments in Obamacare would be allowed, but only current enrollees would qualify for subsidies.

A study by the American Academy of Actuaries offers a dire forecast of what could happen. “A temporary extension of premium subsidies would only delay the market disruption,” it said. “An immediate or near-term elimination of federal premium subsidies would cause massive disruption in the individual market. Blendon, an expert at Harvard on public opinion and health, said that if subsidies were struck down and Republicans had no alternative, voters would hold them responsible.

Blendon said, if voters are given a choice between Republican and Democratic alternatives, “then I don’t think there is going to be a terrific gain for one or the other.” Republican proposals would generally scale back federal regulation of health insurance, giving states more power to set standards for benefits, rates and consumer protections. The bill would provide financial assistance, in the form of tax credits, for up to 18 months of transitional coverage, but the aid would be gradually reduced and eventually eliminated. “Republicans must not extend or renew Obamacare, but instead offer temporary, transitional assistance completely outside of Obamacare’s structure,” Mr.

Sasse said. “I’d be willing to do that on a temporary basis as we transition to something better,” said Representative Andy Barr, Republican of Kentucky. “We all represent people in our districts who are victims of this law.

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