The future of ObamaCare will be decided soon. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will hand down its decision in King v. Burwell by the end of June and both sides are preparing for a King victory.
Followers of this blog know the issue concerns the awarding of tax-payer subsidies to those purchasing health insurance on the federal exchange. The clear wording of the statute grants subsidies only to those “exchanges established by the state.” Yet the Obama administration decided to grant subsidies to everyone, regardless of whether their state established an exchange or not.
Most believe King will prevail when SCOTUS hands down their decision. A King victory represents an opportunity for both parties to benefit, depending on their readiness. President Obama can be expected to immediately call for Congress to rewrite the wording of the bill to codify the interpretation of the White House. He will pressure those governors of states without exchanges to immediately establish their own.
Republicans must be prepared with a better alternative. In an earlier post, Republicans Respond With New ObamaCare Plan, I discussed the response proposed in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Ryan, Kline, and Upton called “An Off-Ramp From ObamaCare.” Now we have a response from the Senate as well.
Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, writing in The Wall Street Journal, has put forth a bill he calls “Preserving Freedom and Choice in Healthcare.” Like the plan in the House, he sees the urgency in being prepared with an alternative when a King victory is handed down by SCOTUS.
Senator Johnson sees the following goals of an alternative:
- First – prevent President Obama from using a King victory to cement ObamaCare in place.
- Second – Give America one last chance to repeal ObamaCare and replace it with patient-centered, market-based healthcare reforms.
His bill combines a bill originally co-sponsored by 43 Republican senators in 2013, the “If You Like Your Health Care Plan, You Can Keep It Act,” with the elimination of some of the most harmful components of ObamaCare. It would:
- Enact a true grandfather clause, allowing Americans to keep their current healthcare plans, and the taxpayer subsidies available through ObamaCare until August, 2017. This would prevent disruption of the current system caused by the elimination of subsidies being received now. New enrollees would be allowed but only current enrollees would qualify for subsidies.
- Repeal the Individual Mandate, ending the IRS’s enforcement of taxes on those who elect not to purchase health insurance.
- Repeal the Employer Mandate, ending the forced shifting of millions of Americans to part-time work.
- Eliminate the mandated coverages, that have caused the price of healthcare insurance to skyrocket, leaving many people with insurance policies with deductibles so high they can no longer afford to see a doctor.
These simple changes would smooth the transition from the current system with millions receiving subsidies to a better system by August, 2017, when a new president and Congress could make necessary changes. The negative un-intended consequences of ObamaCare will be removed, paving the way for a full replacement that preserves freedom of choice, covers more individuals, and doesn’t sacrifice religious freedom on the altar of government control of healthcare.
Senator Johnson is to be commended for his new bill and should work closely with Congressmen Ryan, Kline, and Upton in the House, to assure the American people they will be ready with a bill that can pass quickly thru Congress when the King victory is delivered in June. Failure to do so will waste the best, and perhaps last chance, to once and for all deliver the American people from ObamaCare forever.