Roundup of Post-King v. Burwell Pre-Gaming

From the National Journal, Obama’s Hardball Option to Save Obamacare:

The GOP endgame on the Supreme Court’s upcoming Affordable Care Act decision has long been planned. The details vary, but the underlying plan is clear: If the law’s insurance subsidies are struck down in states using the federal exchange, Republicans will propose alternatives that gut the law, forcing President Obama to accept some sort of concessions in order to help the 6 million Americans whose insurance just became unaffordable.

All that assumes, however, that Obama will cave—or at least compromise. But what if the president decides he won’t give an inch?

Instead of striking a deal, Obama could take his case directly to the public, blaming Republicans for a lawsuit they supported taking health-insurance subsidies from millions, and insisting that they pass a bill to restore them with no strings attached.

The administration’s best-case scenario would obviously be a win in King v. Burwell, in which the plaintiffs are suing to block the IRS from handing out health insurance subsidies in the 34 states on the federal exchange, arguing that the law allows such subsidies to be granted only through state-run exchanges.

But while losing the case would wound the law, it wouldn’t destroy it. Instead, most of the consequences would be felt in Republican-controlled states, where governors and legislatures declined to set up state exchanges. In 16 states and the District of Columbia, the law would continue almost entirely unaffected.

The White House is pursuing a similar theme: “The fact is, in the unlikely event that there is an adverse ruling, the president has also been pretty clear that if Congress is actually serious about solving this problem, they could solve the problem in one day with a one-page bill,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters this week.

“But it’s pretty clear from those who have been quoted talking about this publicly—at least on the Republican side of the aisle—that their interest is not in trying to protect the critically important gains that have been enjoyed by millions of Americans across the country, but rather to dismantle them,” he continued. “And that is the publicly stated goal of any number of members of Congress.”‘

From Bloomberg, Conservative Groups Bracing Republicans for Obamacare Ruling:

Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, the leader of the Republican effort to craft a contingency plan, responded to the criticisms Tuesday. “We are not going to protect the law,” he said. “We are going to protect people.”

Republican senators in blue and purple states—Susan Collins of Maine, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and Rob Portman of Ohio—told Bloomberg they support a temporary subsidy extension. Like Johnson, Ayotte and Portman face potentially difficult reelection races in 2016.

“I do support taking care of those people, including almost 200,000 people in Ohio who are getting subsidies under our federal exchange,” Portman said, adding that “there’s different views on the length of time” to keep the subsidies.

Standing against a subsidy extension are two senators running for president. Both, like DeMint, are ideological purists. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas told Politico this month that the “best legislative option is to allow states to opt out” of Obamacare. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky told the paper he wants a new law that would “legalize inexpensive insurance policies.”

Even if the Republican-led Congress were able to pass its emerging proposal, President Barack Obama has made clear he will veto any bill that undermines core components of Obamacare, such as a repeal of the individual mandate. In other words, it’s extremely unlikely to become law, and serves mostly as a political vehicle to spread blame for the chaos that could result from a Supreme Court decision.

Privately, some Republican aides who work on health policy confess that they’d prefer to see the subsidies upheld, seeing few, if any, options to get a health care bill past Obama’s desk and fearful their party will be blamed for the fallout.

Politico, Anti-Obamacare senator braces for court ruling:

Johnson is framing his plan as an attempt to protect people from even more damage from Obamacare and as a “transition” or “bridge” away from the president’s health law and toward a new plan, potentially one that the winner of the 2016 presidential race can put into place.

“I don’t want to see one more American harmed or damaged by this terrible law,” Johnson said. If the Supreme Court rules against the White House, he added, “it’s going to be a mess.”

But some of Johnson’s fellow Republicans don’t see it the same way. The Heritage Foundation’s Jim DeMint says that the GOP shouldn’t lift a finger to put Obama’s law back together.

“The people taking potshots at the bill aren’t really acknowledging the reality of the situation,” Johnson said in the interview, noting that millions would lose subsidies.

Despite having the majority, Republicans lack the votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster, meaning that compromise is necessary. To most Senate Democrats, the Johnson bill is a nonstarter.

“We’ve looked at it carefully — it would destroy the Affordable Care Act. You cannot eliminate the individual mandate and continue to protect people with pre-existing conditions. It’s impossible,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “If he had conversations with people in the insurance industry, he will realize that the two are inseparable.”

If the administration loses in the Supreme Court ruling, the White House and Senate Democrats say all they would need is a one-sentence change to the law that allows people to get subsidies if their state adopted the federal exchange.

But Johnson won’t budge.

“There is no way that Congress is going to pass a one-sentence bill,” he said. And he rejected suggestions of simply extending the subsidies for a period without any conditions attached to it.

“I basically put my best offer on the table there,” Johnson said.

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