© Greg Nash
Former House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric CantorChamber of Commerce overhauls lobbying operation Laura Ingraham under consideration for White House press secretary VA Dems jockey for Kaine's seat MORE (R-Va.) said Tuesday the Republican Party could have its first real chance to repeal ObamaCare mandates this year.
Cantor said the GOP will have strong bargaining power on healthcare reform if ObamaCare loses in the Supreme Court. That could force the administration to make a major compromise.
“The two sides are going to have to work with one another if there’s going to be some resolution here,” Cantor said in a Washington panel hosted by New York University. “Republicans are not going to accept a mandate.”
Cantor shared a stage with former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who immediately argued that allowing healthcare reform was not possible without requiring broader participation in the marketplace.
“If you get rid of pre-existing conditions, you need a mandate,” Sebelius shot back.
Eliminating the individual and employer mandates have been an increasingly big priority for Republicans in this year’s GOP-controlled Congress. But Sebelius argued that popular policy ideas — such as protecting people with pre-existing conditions — aren’t possible without the mandates.
“Unless you want a single-payer plan, if you want private insurance industry to survive, you have to tie that to a balanced risk pool,” she said.
Cantor said the administration will have to concede on some policy areas, facing pressure from governors and GOP congressional leaders.
“Both sides are going to have to step up, and I think the sensitivity on the Republican side is going to be, ‘We’ve got to roll back the sense that [the government] can fix all problems here,’ ” said Cantor, who was unseated in the 2014 election cycle.
Both former leaders also warned of the impending doom that could result from the looming court case, King v. Burwell.
As one of the biggest cases of this year’s Supreme Court season, King v. Burwell threatens to erase healthcare subsidies for people in 34 states. Republicans have scrambled to come up with a plan before a ruling is announced in June, while the Obama administration has insisted nothing can be done to avert the fallout.
“You would have a domino effect,” Sebelius said, echoing the fears of the administration. “Some private insurance companies would see their portfolios in grave jeopardy pretty quickly.”
She also sought to debunk the arguments put forward by the conservative plaintiffs. Sebelius, whose tenure spanned the debate and early rollout of ObamaCare, said it was “difficult to read” a scenario in which the government would create a national plan for subsidies, but then restrict it to only certain states.