Senate Republicans Preparing To Fix Obamacare If SCOTUS Strikes Down Subsidies
Senate Republicans are working on legislation to fix the PPACA's subsidies if the Supreme Court rules against the Federal Government in June.
Sometime in the next two months, the Supreme Court will hand down it’s ruling in King v. Burwell, the latest challenge to reach its bench concerning the Affordable Care Act. As you will recall, that case deals with the issue of the subsidies provided under the law for the purchase of health insurance. According to the Plaintiffs in this case, and others that have challenged this portion of the PPACA, the language of the law clearly only authorizes the Internal Revenue Service to issue subsidies for insurance purchased on the exchanges that have been established by the state, meaning that the subsidies granted to the millions of Americans who have used the Federal Government’s exchange were given in violation of the law. The Federal Government, on the other hand, has argued that the IRS’s interpretation of the language of the law to include insurance purchased on federal exchanges is reasonable and permitted under the law. To date, only two Courts, a three judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and a Federal District Court Judge in Oklahoma, have accepted the Plaintiff’s argument. The other courts, including the Fourth Circuit from which the King case originates, have ruled in favor of the Federal Government and the ruling from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals was overturned when the full court accepted it for en banc appeal. The King case, though, was appealed to the Supreme Court and the Court heard oral argument in the case last month.
Now, anticipating the possibility that the Court will rule in favor of the Plaintiffs and eliminate PPACA subsidies for millions of Americans, Senate Republicans are moving to draft legislation to fix the law, at least temporarily:
The legislation, offered by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), one of the most politically vulnerable Senate incumbents in 2016, would maintain the federal HealthCare.gov tax credits at stake inKing v. Burwell through the end of August 2017.
The bill was unveiled this week with 29 other cosponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his four top deputies, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), John Thune (R-SD), John Barrasso (R-WY) and Roy Blunt (R-MO). Another cosponsor is Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), the chairman of the conference’s electoral arm.
Such a move would seek to protect the GOP from political peril in the 2016 elections when Democrats would try to blame the party for stripping subsidies — and maybe insurance coverage — from millions of Americans in three dozen states. A defeat for the Obama administration in aKing ruling would likely create havoc across insurance markets and pose a huge problem for Republicans, many of whom have been pushing the Supreme Court to nix the subsidies.
“This bill is a first step toward reversing the damage that Obamacare has inflicted on the American health care system,” Johnson said.
He recently explained the rationale for the legislation, warning that Democrats would swarm the GOP with attacks and horror stories about “individuals that have benefited from Obamacare” and lost their coverage.
Democrats would probably demand a fix to make the subsidies permanently available if they go down. But they would be hard-pressed to vote down a bill to temporarily extend them if Republicans were to bring it up.
The Johnson bill also contains sweeteners for conservatives which are non-starters for Democrats — it would repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate and employer mandate, and remove federal rules requiring that insurance plans cover a minimum package of “essential health benefits.” If those provisions are ultimately stripped, though, the legislation could have legs.
In addition to the Senators mentioned in the report, Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, who has perhaps even more politically vulnerable in 2016 than Johnson is, also joined in with the group pushing this legislation. There’s no indication of a similarly advanced effort in the House yet, but there have been reports of several top House Republicans discussing the possibility of some kind of extension of the subsidies at least until after the Presidential election, and one suspects that House Republicans would not resist these efforts by their Senate colleagues to provide at least a temporary solution to a problem that could impact millions of people. In addition to having to deal with the negative press that would generate, Republicans are also no doubt paying attention to surveys that show that Americans broadly support the idea of Congress restoring the subsidies if the Supreme Court strikes them down. For example, in survey released last month by the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 60% of Americans said that Congress should act to fix the law if the Court issues a ruling. Perhaps more interesting, this month’s Kaiser survey showed that a narrow majority of American survey had a positive opinion of the PPACA for the first time since it was passed, although public opinion remains bitterly divided. Given this political climate, it would be risky to say the least for Republican to leave the subsidies issue unresolved if the Court rules against the Federal Government, and this is especially true given the fact that the GOP’s control of the Senate will be very much on the line in the 2016 elections.
Obviously, this is yet another example of the phenomenon I made note of last week of Republicans essentially giving up on the fight against the Affordable Care Act. While anti-Obamacare rhetoric will most assuredly be a hit on the Presidential campaign trail over the next year, and candidates like Ted Cruz will continue to vow to repeal the law, it’s rather obvious that the GOP as a whole has started to move on from an issue that they had hoped would win them the White House in 2012 and about which public opinion seems to be improving. These plans to address the subsidies issue rather than following the “let it burn” strategy of many pundits on the rights is perhaps the best example of that. Even the health care reform bills that are being advanced by Republicans in the House and Senate adopt parts of the framework of the PPACA, and maintain provisions such as the ban on denial of insurance for pre-existing conditions, which has always been one of the most popular parts of the law. If there is a Republican elected in 2016, then there will most likely be reforms to the PPACA of some kind, it would seem rather inevitable. The basic framework of the law, though, seems as though it’s here to stay for better or worse.
Yes indeed, the Republicans worst nightmare is coming true. People are actually starting to like the ACA and it took even less time than Medicare to become a political third rail. I suspect they are under some pressure from the insurance companies as well.
Meanwhile, our friends in Europe look on with utter incomprehension.
The Johnson bill also contains sweeteners for conservatives which are non-starters for Democrats — it would repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate and employer mandate, and remove federal rules requiring that insurance plans cover a minimum package of “essential health benefits.”
@Modulo Myself: It would be hilarious if Obama vetoed it and told them, “Hey, you built this.” (If it even makes it past the House.)
(I’m using “hilarious” in an ironic sense, not in a “ha ha people are losing access to health insurance” sense.)
This statement is diamtetrically opposed to the facts. By all objective standards Obamacare has made the Health care system better and more sustainable. It’s not perfect…it still needs work. But it without question better than what existed 5 years ago.
So Republicans don’t want to pay for the good parts of Obamacare that they want to keep, like pre-existing conditions, etc. And they want to go back to allowing scam insurance policies that do not pay off on claims, and merely collect premiums from dupes who don’t know any better, or cannot afford better.
After 5 years of promising an alternative to Obamacare, this is what they have come up with? What a pathetic excuse for governance.
@C. Clavin: Methinks governance is not what they are looking for.
It’s just a way to make it appear like the dictator Obama is refusing to negotiate. Thus it’s his fault that people don’t have health insurance.
I doubt it will be believed. Obama should call any and all bluffs.
The GOP is truly gutless.
There is no reason to “fix” anything. I don’t see why there should be any need to accommodate people receiving these subsidies. Obamacare is a bad bill – kill it.
Obamacare supporters are never going to vote GOP regardless so the GOP has absolutely nothing to lose by alienating its proponents.
It is not the role of government to provide healthcare to anyone.
@OzarkHillbilly: Correct! Conservatives don’t want to govern. They want to kneecap government.
The government which governs least governs best. If you love government vote Democrat. If you want to limit government, vote Republican.
Does anyone really believe that this bill as described will go anywhere? Choose whatever cliche you wish, whether “non-starter” or “poison pill,” Democrats won’t vote for this bill because it guts the ACA. If it is amended to remove those provisions, Republicans won’t vote for it because it would be an explicit endorsement of the hated Obamacare. In a very competitive field, Senator Ron Johnson may be the dumbest Republican senator we now have.
So Republicans want to be able to eat the meal, but get rid of the part about paying the check. Funny how that works.
@dmichael: Johnson is not so much dumb as he is a politician. He has a tough reelection coming up and 200.000 people in his state have health insurance because of the ACA.
That certainly describes the federal government when Republicans are in charge of both the executive and legislative branches…
There are no good parts.
No, I don’t want to pay for any part of it.
The concept of covering preexisting conditions is absurd. If my home is on fire should I be able to purchase fire insurance? Should I be able to add collision to my auto policy AFTER I have an accident?
Covering preexisting conditions is not insurance – it’s prepaid medical, paid for by someone else.
I don’t want to keep the “good” parts of Obamacare — I want to scrap the whole damn thing. The GOP doesn’t need to offer an alternative — why should they? Healthcare is not a proper function of government.
The alternative is: if you want a health insurance policy, buy one. Nobody who supports Obamacare would ever vote Republican anyway so the GOP has absolutely nothing to lose, electorally speaking, by scrapping the whole damn thing.
What surprises me the number of people who think it’s perfectly fine to condemn people to a wretched life and a quick death for the sake of an ideal. Let’s say you’ve had a history of cancer. That’s now a pre-existing condition, and used to be used by health insurance companies to not provide coverage. Now the cancer comes back–what do you do? You try to cover the payments on your own (and cancer treatments aren’t cheap), but probably can’t. “Going to the emergency room” isn’t going to help because you’re not going to immediately die–but every minute you are delayed from getting treatment the cancer is growing bigger and bigger inside you and making it less likely that you are going to survive. So what are you supposed to do, according to the anti-Obamacare people?
There’s a REASON Obamacare got passed, and too many people who are against it have said exactly zilch about how they are planning to solve the problems that Obamacare solved. Stop nattering on about ideals–these are actual peoples’ lives we are talking about!
You mean there are some elements of health care that are not amenable to the free market?
I love the tone of hysteria. I smell your fear. It makes me happy.
I know! I read the constitusion and it does not say Obummercare or death panels either, plus they don’t even have anything about a defense department or an army. Not a standing army I don’t know maybe sitting HA HA but that wouldn’t be very good if we had to sit and the other side got to stand.
You are a GENIUS! Keep it up!!!
You keep f—ing that chicken.
It’s gone from conservatives decrying the “wildly unpopular” Obummercare to a “bitterly divided” populace. In a decade, we’ll have protestors on Fox News with signs saying “Keep the gubmint out of my Obamacare!”
The more people use Obamacare, the more they appreciate it and the less happy they’ll be with Republicans trying to take it away.
I’m probably one of the few people who secretly sort of hopes that the court sides with King. It would create a 2 ton millstone hanging around the necks of congressional Republicans going into an election year.
They’ll be left with either fixing it or having to explain to their constituents who no longer have health insurance why they won’t. It’ll also split the party wide open. What is simmering tension now will become open warfare.
The human cost of that strategy is what gives me pause, but strictly from a political strategy perspective, it’s a masterpiece.
Yeah, to grow government and to create middle class dependency. The poor have food stamps and Medicaid. In order to create a permanent Democrat constituency you need to hook the middle class on government dependency. That’s the reason for Obamacare.
You need to see an ENT specialist II’m sure Obamacare will cover it) because your sense of smell is off. I’m giddy. People whose analysis I trust are very confident that we’re going to win King v. Burwell.
If we win, there will be absolute chaos. Since not one Republican voted for Obamacare it will be pretty hard to blame the GOP for any of the chaos. I want as much chaos as possible.
Wrong again, Sparky. Republican constituents generally don’t receive government subsidies – that’s your team. It will be mostly Obama voters who will suffer from this. Screw them.
They backed Obama – they deserve to pay a price for that. For what possible reason would the GOP bail either the Democrat party or their constituents out of this mess that they made. We’ll be LAUGHING our a$$es off at them when the chaos ensues. Since we have the House and the Senate, you’re going to be up a real creek! LOL!!!!!
Why should the GOP help BHO with anything? Why would we help people who receive subsidies? It’s not like they’re going to vote Republican anyway — screw them.
I agree. The troll is losing it.
(Remember folks – DFTFT)
Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, Ron Johnson …. what is it with Wisconsin?
I think Feingold, if he wants to run the gauntlet again, could take Johnson down.
@Ron Beasley: Ron: I believe that being a politician and being dumb are not mutually exclusive. For many on the right, it seems to be a requirement. However, Johnson will have a difficult time explaining to those in Wisconsin who will lose their health insurance through a Supreme Court decision that his efforts to repeal and/or gut the ACA had nothing to do with the loss of their coverage. Go Feingold!
Obama will immediately veto it as being a temporary fix, leaving congressional Republicans stuck with fixing it permanently or else being the guys that torpedoed health care for millions of people. Their caucus will split wide open between the folks beholden to the Tea Party and the folks who are terrified of the consequences of a negative ruling.
You couldn’t have ordered a more negative script for the GOP to be facing in an election year.
HL has a point. It will be the red states hit hard by this, so damage to the Dems for opposing a bill with poison pills will be minimal.
Yes because you’re a WARRIOR and everyone else is a weak kitty (I want to say another word but there might be lady’s present.)
I am like you so much! I want Kaos too because I never really liked Control that much because if you can’t even have a phone booth that doesn’t turn into an elevator how can you fight ISIS? Which is really just Kaos. As I’m sure you know.
Anyway you are very manly.
And I’m not saying that in a gay way.
I dont mean anything wrong by saying gay. I just don’t think Obummer should marry gay people in the army.
@Larry T: @James P:
Because the army is not even in the constitution just like Obummercommoncore so how can the constitution have army gays getting married? Like you said.
Would you believe…?
That’s not fear.
If only Republicans were on record about repealing Obamacare. Maybe then people would know where they stand.
Nope. There will be nothing to veto. There’s nothing to fix.
The only people whose healthcare will be torpedoed will be Obama voters. As I said earlier, screw them. There are consequences to backing the wrong horse and they need to pay the piper.
NObody who receives a subsidy was ever going to vote Republican anyway so there is absolutely no reason for the GOP to “fix” anything.
The people who get screwed were never going to vote Republican anyway. We don’t owe them a damn thing.
I don’t think you idiots understand. I wish to conduct my life without government interference of any kind. I do not need government. Government is a mere millstone around my mighty neck.
I am quite capable of drilling wells for water, hacking my way through dense woods without need of government roads and I know poison ivy on sight.
Do I require a government to tell me how to kill, skin and eat a deer? No, I do not! Nor how to chew that deer’s skin to tenderness so that I may make a perfectly acceptable set of buckskins to cover my nakedness.
No government need regulate my speech, my sight, my hearing, or the function of my bowels. I am alone on a promontory, unique and very much a man.
Much more of a man than any of you.
@James P: I did not make this comment. Someone expropriated my handle.
Yes! But don’t forget to get yourself some baby powder and if you don’t want baby powder because its probably government controlled you can use corn starch. It works on chinese food.
@James P: I have never hunted in my life, so obviously I would not make this statement. That said, I wouldn’t need government to tell me how to hunt a deer, but I don’t hunt. I buy my food at the grocery store and I don’t eat deer.
Thats not OK you should tell someone. When I was in fifth grade this scout leader expropriated my handle and I told on him and now there arent gay scouts. No thanks to Obummer! Stranger danger!!
Is it just me or is this thread turning surreal?
They are also on record supporting the popular parts of Obamacare, maybe you’ve heard of “repeal and replace”. I didn’t believe it was sincere, but they pretended to have that position for a reason.
This will overwhelmingly hit red states, including states like Kentucky, where the program is quite popular.
“Opposing” PPACA is one thing, but facing (just as an example) 410,000 Kentucky voters who have just lost their health insurance is quite another. Methinks McConnell might be concerned about that.
Trust me, they’ll be falling over themselves to enact fixes, and since they control both houses of Congress, they’ll be blamed for the consequences by their constituents if they don’t. Dem ad buys will make sure they get the memo.
You poor dear. You should contact James to let him know and be sure to give him all of your potential IP addresses so he knows which one is the real you.
Kentucky actually has a state run site that is working quite well. It is working so well and is so popular that McConnell ran against “Obamacare” while supporting Kynect. Somehow Grimes didn’t manage to capitalize on that.
Note: that, or the more obvious fix – these red states scramble to institute their own exchanges, which just solidifies PPACA’s permanence.
@HarvardLaw92: If this does come for a vote, I hope that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid make it clear to the majority leaders that if there is one clause in the bill except for maintaining the subsidies, then it needs to pass with only Republican votes. No more Democrats taking the tough but necessary votes to allow the Republicans to pose for the yahoos at home.
True, my mistake. I think the broader point stands though. It was a poor choice of example.
Oh, I expect they’ll have a field day playing this game. They’re both exceedingly skilled at political tactics, especially Reid.
@michael reynolds: That seems to happen a lot lately. A somewhat serious discussion, even if people are having a little fun, and then a secondary discussion with the trolls that I can only understand if I hit my head off my desk a few times.
“Pro-life until birth” is a modern conservative tenet
Because of course, everyone who is getting Medicare and Social Security paid.for.every.penny.
Also, those programs are not sustainable, in the red, and need to be slashed.
Actually, the most obvious “fix” would be to amend the legislation and change the clause that limits federal subsidies to only those plans purchased through state exchanges.
But, everyone (except you apparently) knows that will never happen. Which is why the upcoming SCOTUS decision is a big freaking deal.
@James P: Sorry, you can only exproriate something once something is property. Since government is what makes property property, and you want to live life free of government interference, anyone can do whatever they want, as long as you can’t shoot them.
@HarvardLaw92: I get really annoyed about the whole health insurance thing because a very close friend of mine is one of those people who would be on the hook if Obamacare were ever repealed: he’s got one of those incredibly rare chronic syndromes that require expensive medicine and a heck of a lot of headscratching. He’s probably already used up whatever lifetime limit there used to be on insurance payouts (whether $1M or $3M makes little difference.) And yet he still manages to put in a full work day in research and training, day in and day out, 7 days a week, at a top scientific establishment. He’s published quite a few papers and books, not to mention the several patents he’s been granted. And people like our trolls argue that it’s perfectly fine if he gets kicked off health insurance and just left to fend for himself. Because Freedom, or something like that. The fact that they have just condemned a brilliant scientist to death bothers them not one bit.
Which is one reason why I doubt any of our trolls are older than 14 years or so. It’s only those with the gullible naivety of youth who are so lacking in empathy. At some point in their lives–they, or someone they know–will need medical help of the form they are so quick to downplay.
No, the obvious “fix” is to recognize, as the 4th Circuit did, that the verbiage is unintentionally ambiguous. To assert that Congress intended to subsidize some PPACA participants, but not others, requires a massive level of pedantism.
@C. Clavin: You’re right. It’s not fear – it’s my last name.
Again, if Republicans are so scared of the consequences of negative Supreme Court ruling that will condemn millions of their constituents to an early grave, why wouldn’t they just get with the Democrats and amend the PPACA? Apparently, all they would need to do is change one sentence.
Because they been saying they have a better proposal for 6 years now?
@Pete S: Trolls trolling trolls. Very confusing. Do we have sock puppets using sock puppets, too?
That’s kind of the point. The GOP are scared of the consequences, otherwise they wouldn’t have pretended to have a plan to “repeal and replace“. They also wouldn’t be discussing how to avoid immediately ending the subsidies for millions of Americans. Given those two facts, it’s clear they can solve this fake problem they are creating simply by changing one sentence.
No. There are no good parts of Obamacare. Conservatives don’t support one syllable of it. Flush the whole damn thing.
If you find a cockroach in your dinner you don’t continue to eat the parts of your meal untouched by the cockroach — you throw the entire thing away.
Obamacare is one giant cockroach.. Not one syllable of it is worth saving.
When SCOTUS throws out subsidies in the Burwell case Obamacare dies. Congress would have to sustain it, and any Republican who does anything to bail out Obamacare will feel the mother of all wraths in a primary —- ask your pal Lugar.
I swear on my life I will write as large of a check as I can afford to the primary challenger of any Republican who tries to “fix” Obamacare.
The people who will suffer are people who voted for Obama in the first place. GOOD!!!
No. There are no good parts of Obamacare. Conservatives don’t support one syllable of it. Flush the whole damn thing and if there are any floaters flush again. And if it still doesn’t work, then kind of lay some loose toilet paper over the floating turds and flush it again.
If you find a cockroach in your dinner you must continue to eat the parts of your meal untouched by the cockroach.
Obamacare is one giant cockroach. Eat it. But eat it with the respect due to a worthy adversary. The legs are the most tender part.
When SCROTUM throws out subsidies in the Burwell case Obamacare dies. Congress would have to sustain it, and any Republican who does anything to bail out Obamacare will feel the wrath of all mothers, including my mother who is sad that this is what I do with my day.
So very sad.
I swear on my life I will write as large of a check as I can afford – as much as twelve dollars! — to the primary challenger of any Republican who tries to “fix” Obamacare.
The people who will suffer are GOD!!!
You are RIGHT about that! Also you can hold down the rubber thing in the tank with one hand and put more water in the tank with the other if the sink is near and then you can do a power flush and bye-bye poop.
You are NOT me. You do not sound like me. Plus that is NOT my avatar. STOP IT.
@James P: Why can’t you make your comments using your own handle?
One thing I have never once done is use a false name or a sock puppet.
Your writing style is clearly different than mine and even the dullards here know that you are an imposter. That’s not even the same picture of Ronaldus Magnus and Sarah Barracuda that I used.
You really are a putz.
@Larry T: I did make that comment – the imposter did. The imposter has the picture of Reagan and Sarah.
OK I am confused.
@James P: My name is James P. Pee, millionaire. I own a mansion and a yacht.
I hate to admit it, but James P may have finally made a positive contribution to a thread here.
Is it my imagination or has James P had some kind of psychotic break? He starts off as a dull bombastic ignoramus and now he’s Sybil. Apparently the line between stupid and crazy is more permeable than I would have thought.
@michael reynolds: Hey, maybe the new personality can claim to have a doctorate in physics from M.I.T.!
Hence the open warfare – they are between a rock and a hard place. Either way they go, they piss off some segment of their base. Change it and you piss off the Teatards. Don’t change it, and you piss off the rest of the party. We’re just enjoying watching them wrestle with trying not to BBQ themselves.
Once, I made nasty with myself while looking at a picture of Daddy Reagan. Now my pee pee hurts …
I don’t understand how the title of the post is justified. This doesn’t fix Obamacare, all it does is to put off the decision about whether to fix it until after the election.
Presumably, Republicans don’t want to be exposed to attack ads during the next election cycle charging that they want to take away healthcare from the needy (especially now that the law is more popular than unpopular). If they wanted to actually fix things, they’d make changes without an expiration date on them.
@James P: I’m still laughing at this comment. Brilliant.
Yes, but which James P?
The fake comment, Michael. “I am alone on a promontory”, etc. hilarious
Wow…after reading this thread, I see that the Laugh-In vibe must have started here and spread to other threads….somebody needs to sock it to somebody…oy…
@An Interested Party: It’s pretty much the end-state of politics that are conducted like we do. You must have a surreal mindset to accept some political truths. That’s how we can have political fights between good-vibey slacker hippies and naked men shouting from mountains. America!
I truly believe there is only one James P.
The employer mandate is the only thing that could viably be scrapped. But getting rid of the individual mandate invites the freeloading that would kill the concept completely. Funny how the supposed party of personal responsibility hates people actually being made to take responsibility. But then that seems to only apply to health care and union benefits.
Fools! Soon I will squash you like insects…
I realize the majority of the people here are hardly the sharpest tools in the shed, but even they are cognizant of the fact that someone is expropriating my name.
Judging by the fact the imposter’s posts are liked while mine as still panned people can discern the difference.
I have not posted anything in 24 hours yet I still live rent free inside your heads. You can’t dispute me on substance so you resort to second grade playground antics. I chalk that up as a victory, thank you very much.
Sure, of course you do, that’s the classic, even inevitable, reaction of a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. You’ve become an object of ridicule, but since that does not compute for an NPD sufferer you’re going to declare victory.
I think that’s fine, dude, do what you gotta do. You win! You win, James! You win and mommy loves you!
There. Feel better?
You win one free internet. Now go play on it away from here.
@James P: Making an impression doesn’t mean you “live rent free” inside my head like some sort of memetic hobo. It means you broke my window and I remember you because you’re the asshole who refuses to even admit I own a window to break.
Who the hell calls it a victory to leave an impression of, “Jesus, what an asshole,” on people? Especially over the internet where you can’t even take an impish delight in seeing people’s disgust in their face and body language, tone of voice, etc. On the Internet, you’re literally just rage-masturbating: you’re imagining the tone of voice and cackling to yourself marveling at your own imagination’s ability to take written words and place them in the context most besotting your ego.
Well, I suppose you could be thirteen. That’s a harsh age.