GOP divided as Supreme Court ruling on health care law nears

30 Apr 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

GOP divided as Supreme Court ruling on health care law nears.

Congressional Republicans have yet to unite behind any of the growing number of proposals for responding to a Supreme Court ruling that could void federal subsidies that millions of people use to buy coverage under President Barack Obama’s health care law. President Obama spent years tarring House Republicans as the cause of a “do-nothing” Congress, but House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) has turned that critique back on him. “In the first 100 days alone, President Obama threatened to veto 22 bills, including 17 House-passed bills with bipartisan support,” according to a new post on the majority leader’s website. “He has now issued nearly 25 veto threats since the beginning of the new year.” Of course, Obama isn’t alone in this effort. Should the plaintiffs prevail in the GOP-backed lawsuit, the justices could annul one of the law’s backbones: federal subsidies helping around 7.7 million people afford health insurance in more than 30 states.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) filibustered a bill intended to help human trafficking victims after the legislation cleared the Judiciary Committee with unanimous support. Republicans broadly agree that Congress should react by temporarily replacing that aid, aware that abruptly ending it would anger millions of voters before the 2016 presidential and congressional elections.

Reid and the Democrats claimed they hadn’t realized the bill contained language stipulating that federal funds collected from human traffickers couldn’t be used to pay for abortions. They dropped the filibuster after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) refused to hold a vote to confirm Loretta Lynch as attorney general until after the passage of the human trafficking legislation. It’s highly uncertain whether Republicans can unite behind a single plan, given that more conservative Republicans oppose any federal funding or regulatory role in expanding health coverage. The divisions underscore the challenge Republicans face between satisfying conservative supporters who want the law dismantled and providing help should millions lose their ability to afford coverage.

But the sheer existence of the GOP proposals could help in court because it might suggest to the justices that despite Democrats’ claims that eliminating the subsidies would spark health insurance chaos, Congress is already working on ways to avoid that. Increasingly, many acknowledge that as long as Obama remains in office, any repeal effort will mostly serve to tee up the issue for the 2016 elections. “I think it needs to be part of the presidential campaign, and then the winner will be able to point to that as part of their mandate,” said No. 2 Senate GOP leader John Cornyn of Texas. More than 9 million Americans would lose access to financial assistance worth $28.8 billion in 2016, according to an analysis by researchers at the Urban Institute.

Meanwhile, he said, “what we all need to do is unite around one approach, if that’s at all possible, and that’s been a challenge because there are competing good ideas out there.” Sen. It’s anticipated that the fallout would affect the entire individual insurance market in states using the federal exchange, not just the exchange market.

John Barrasso, R-Wyo., is helping to craft a plan he says would temporarily protect people who lose subsidies and eliminate the law’s requirements that individuals buy coverage and that companies cover their workers. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who faces a tight re-election race next year, would extend the current subsidies until August 2017 but also eliminate the coverage requirements for individuals and employers, which Obama considers key parts of the law and would be unlikely to accept. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who is expected to face a tough re-election fight in 2016, introduced legislation intended to keep current subsidies in place through August 2017.

The Johnson plan would prohibit new customers in both the state and federally operated exchanges from receiving subsidies and repeal the individual and employer mandates. In addition, it would eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s minimum essential benefit requirements, allow states to set those benefit rules, and grandfather in existing health plans that are not compliant with the ACA. Bill Flores, R-Texas, is writing a plan expected to revoke the entire law and instead provide new health care tax deductions for families. “What did we tell the voters last November?

Paul Ryan, R-Wis., says that once the court has ruled, GOP leaders will decide whether to use that process to send Obama legislation repealing the health care overhaul or addressing the justices’ ruling. “I don’t think the guy named Obama will sign a law repealing Obamacare,” said Ryan, using a nickname for the law. Such a vote could be difficult for the half-dozen GOP senators facing competitive re-election fights in closely divided or Democratic-leaning states in 2016, when Senate control will be at stake. Plaintiffs say the Obama administration is unlawfully providing subsidies to people buying health coverage in the 37 states using, the federally run insurance marketplace. In addition, they would let states opt into an alternative Republican reform model without insurance mandates and including traditional GOP policy nostrums such as allowing insurers to sell plans across state lines.

They say eliminating the payments would make many people drop coverage, driving up premiums for everyone else because only the sickest and most expensive recipients would retain their policies. Instead, he thinks Republicans should offer a more comprehensive repeal-and-replace package even if it’s certain to be vetoed by President Barack Obama. Feyman worries that the Johnson bill would destabilize the individual insurance markets by locking out new customers who are likely to be healthier and less expensive than the current customer base. Sasse’s bill, he said, would create a dysfunctional market for insurers because their enrollment pools would become unhealthier while at the same time they could not raise premiums.

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