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 CruzDebbie Wasserman Schultz marks 10 years as breast cancer survivor Foreign agent registration is no magical shield against Russian propaganda Let Trump be Trump and he'll sail through 2020 MORE (R-Texas). 

Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat House passes concealed carry gun bill Rosenstein to testify before House Judiciary Committee next week 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 HatchMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' in 2018 Utah governor calls Bannon a 'bigot' after attacks on Romney MORE (R-Utah), John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoScalise: House, Senate ‘pretty close’ on tax bill Top GOP senator: House and Senate 'not that far apart' on tax bill Sunday shows preview: Republicans take victory lap on taxes MORE (R-Wyo.) and Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Finance: Trump says shutdown 'could happen' | Ryan, conservatives inch closer to spending deal | Senate approves motion to go to tax conference | Ryan promises 'entitlement reform' in 2018 Senate approves motion to go to tax conference House conservatives, Ryan inch closer toward spending deal 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 RyanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees House Republican: 'I worry about both sides' of the aisle on DACA Overnight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids 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.