The GOP, State Exchanges and King v. Burwell
Now mired in the Dept of Homeland Security (DHS) funding morass, the congressional GOP majority and GOP governors are now bracing for another potential public relations disaster. If the Supreme Court rules that federal subsidies to the so-called “fallback” federal exchange are illegal in King v. Burwell, it has become increasingly clear that 6 million Americans’ health insurance is at risk — and the Democrats are working overtime plotting how to blame the GOP.
Senators Orin Hatch, Lamar Alexander, and John Barrasso have laid out their contingency plan in a March 1 op-ed for the Washington Post. They describe it as a “bridge away from Obamacare.” It would “provide financial assistance to help Americans keep the coverage they picked for a transitional period.” Then, it would “give states the freedom and flexibility to create better, more competitive health insurance markets offering more options and different choices.”
Interestingly, and with more details to follow from a GOP House plan, the concept of state exchanges remains in place. Its a matter, moreover, of simply tweaking the use of Obamacare’s tax credits to purchase a wide range of health insurance plans. Its certainly positive that the GOP is developing alternative policy solutions, but the practical reality is that people who lose their ‘new’ Obamacare insurance — if the King v. Burwell plaintiff prevails — will be furious.
After throwing their hands in the air about ongoing Washington dysfunction, the first place angry state residents who lose their insurance will look is to their governor. Those GOP governors who failed to set up state exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), especially, will be right in the hot seat, and drawn into a national policy and political controversy. Governors have enough problems already, and GOP governors, specifically, would be smart to stay ahead of the curve and prepare for the worst.