Monday, 23 February 2015

Supreme Court Case May Be A Wake-Up Call For Republicans


By Julie Rovner

Mon, Feb 23 2015

Republican efforts to replace the federal health law have been given new urgency by the Supreme Court.

As soon as this spring, the court could invalidate health insurance subsidies available to millions of Americans if it rules for the challengers in a case called King v. Burwell.

Republicans who hate the Affordable Care Act are rooting for the court to do what they have been unable to accomplish – dismantle a key part of the law. But as the party that controls Congress, some Republicans also fear the potential for a backlash if they don’t have a plan to help those who would effectively be stripped of coverage, many of whom are voters in Republican-led states.

There’s another reason to agree soon on a replacement for the law, instead of continuing their long campaign to repeal it. If Republicans present a reasonable alternative, it could help swing a justice or two who might otherwise worry about the possible ramifications of cutting off the subsidies. Or so the reasoning goes.

“The Republicans would love to give the justices some comfort that if they rule against the Obama administration, there will be something there to deal with the fallout,” says Dean Clancy, a Republican strategist and former aide to House Majority Leader Dick Armey.

Those pushing the case argue that language in the law limits help to pay for insurance to residents of states that have established their own health insurance exchanges. So far only 13 states have – the rest use the federal exchange.  The administration contends that Congress clearly intended that the subsidy — tax credits based on income — be available in all states, and has declined to discuss any possible contingency plans.

If the court rules against the administration, the impact will fall heavily on Republican-led states, such as Florida and Texas, that didn’t create their own exchanges, increasing pressure on Congress to act.

“I really do believe that this situation has concentrated the minds of many people on [Capitol] Hill,” says Avik Roy, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a former health advisor to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. If the Supreme Court rules that subsidies cannot be provided through the federal health exchange, he says, Republicans in the House and Senate “realize if they don’t do something, they will be held accountable for that. Because they are running Congress now, so they can’t blame it on the Democrats.”

source : Supreme Court Case May Be A Wake-Up Call For Republicans

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