Does anyone else see a train wreck coming for this Republican Congress?
House Ways and Means Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) will lead along with two other top committee chairs a Republican task force to come up with a plan in case the Supreme Court strikes a blow to Obamacare later this year…
They will be tasked with working up an alternative plan if the Supreme Court invalidates tax credits in the 30-plus states that use HealthCare.gov, as well as a more general Obamacare alternative if the law were to be repealed…
There is internal dissent on whether Republicans ought to come up with an alternative. One congressional GOP health aide, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly, said his party is as determined as ever to fight Obamacare, and will remain so as long as it exhibits failure. He said devising an alternative is fraught with the difficulty of crafting a new benefits structure that doesn’t look like the Affordable Care Act.
“If you want to say the further and further this gets down the road, the harder and harder it gets to repeal, that’s absolutely true,” the aide said. “As far as repeal and replace goes, the problem with replace is that if you really want people to have these new benefits, it looks a hell of a lot like the Affordable Care Act. … To make something like that work, you have to move in the direction of the ACA. You have to have a participating mechanism, you have to have a mechanism to fund it, you have to have a mechanism to fix parts of the market.”
Leaders in the GOP-controlled House and Senate see the court challenge as their best hope for tearing apart a law they have long opposed. If the court strikes down the subsidies, Democrats are expected to clamor for lawmakers to pass a measure correcting the language in the law to revive them. Congressional Republicans say there is no possibility they would allow that.
“No, no, no, no;” said Sen. Dan Coats (R., Indiana).
Rep. McDermott came up with a different analogy.
GOP congressional leaders haven’t coalesced around a specific replacement for the law should the court strike down the subsidies. Democrats say that makes them vulnerable, and plan to paint the GOP as responsible for taking away benefits that millions already receive.
“What you’re going to see is the Republican party with all their clothes off,” said Rep. Jim McDermott (D., Wash.) “They are standing out there naked as a jaybird and they are going to have to stand up and explain, ’Well, now we got rid of it – now what do we do?’”
It would all be humorous if it weren’t so terribly tragic.