Key conservatives don't rule out temporary ObamaCare extensions

Key conservatives don't rule out temporary ObamaCare extensions
© Greg Nash

Several key conservative lawmakers aren't ruling out support for proposals to temporarily extend people’s ObamaCare plans if the Supreme Court strikes down subsidies under the law.

“I don’t want to prejudge that debate right now, I want to assess the options,” said Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day HHS official put on leave amid probe into social media posts Trump, Pence to address CPAC this week MORE (R-Texas). 

Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsUnder pressure, Trump shifts blame for Russia intrusion Overnight Tech: Judge blocks AT&T request for DOJ communications | Facebook VP apologizes for tweets about Mueller probe | Tech wants Treasury to fight EU tax proposal Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand MORE (R-Ala.) raised concerns about how long the extension would be, but also suggested he could consider it.

“I think it should be limited, perhaps, but I don’t shut the door on that,” he said. 

Republicans are looking to show the Supreme Court that they have a plan ready if the court rules to invalidate subsidies for around 7.5 million people in at least 34 states in the case of King v. Burwell, set for arguments on Wednesday. 

A central part of the plans unveiled this week is a proposal to provide financial assistance to people losing their subsidies so that they can temporarily keep their ObamaCare plans and avoid disruption. Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOvernight Finance: NAFTA defenders dig in | Tech pushes Treasury to fight EU on taxes | AT&T faces setback in merger trial | Dems make new case against Trump tax law | Trump fuels fight over gas tax What sort of senator will Mitt Romney be? Not a backbencher, even day one Lawmaker interest in NAFTA intensifies amid Trump moves MORE (R-Utah), John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoThe 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework Overnight Energy: Senate panel advances Trump pick for EPA No. 2 | Pruitt questions ‘assumptions’ on climate | Dems want Pruitt recused from climate rule review Senate panel advances Trump pick for No. 2 official at EPA MORE (R-Wyo.) and Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care: Trump health chief backs CDC research on gun violence | GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix | Groups sue over cuts to teen pregnancy program GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix 30 million people will experience eating disorders — the CDC needs to help MORE (R-Tenn.), as well as Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), have proposed versions of that idea. 

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) was a leader in the 2013 effort to defund ObamaCare, but he is interested in the extension idea.

He and other lawmakers recently met with Sasse. “We’re in the process of evaluating it, but I love that forward thinking, [making] sure we have a plan and he’s doing a good job of that,” Meadows said of Sasse.

Asked if it would be politically difficult to pass Sasse’s proposed extension of plans, Meadows said “No, I think the compassionate way, you have to deal with the reality.”

“That’s why the implementation on October 1 of 2013 was so critical, and I said a number of times then, once it gets in place, it’s very difficult to take those subsidies away, and we just need to make sure that they have healthcare coverage,” he added.

A group of House committee chairmen, including Ways and Means Chairman Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRepublicans are avoiding gun talks as election looms The Hill's 12:30 Report Flake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan MORE (R-Wis.), unveiled their own plan on Monday night. It would give states the ability to opt-out of ObamaCare’s mandates to buy insurance and provide tax credits to help people afford coverage. It makes no mention of the temporary assistance in the Senate plans. 

It's silent on that question right now,” said Ways and Means Committee spokesman Brendan Buck.

Still, not all Republicans are open to the idea. 

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a possible Republican presidential candidate, wrote in an op-ed in National Review Tuesday morning that the extension of plans would only make the law “more entrenched.”

"Some on the right want to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory," he wrote.