GOP senator unveils new ObamaCare backup plan

GOP senator unveils new ObamaCare backup plan
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Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonDemocratic Homeland Security members request additional DHS nominee testimony Key differences between the Senate and House tax plans Senate panel delays vote on Trump’s Homeland Security pick MORE (R-Wis.) unveiled legislation on Tuesday that would allow people to temporarily keep their ObamaCare plans if the Supreme Court guts the law's subsidies.

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Johnson’s bill is the latest Republican effort to put forward contingency plans for the possibility that the high court could strike down subsidies that help 7.5 million people afford health insurance.

Many Republicans, including Johnson, who is up for reelection next year, worry that without a plan, they will face intense political pressure to simply restore coverage under ObamaCare to the millions of people who would lose insurance in the case King v. Burwell. A ruling is expected in June. 

Johnson’s plan would allow people to keep their ObamaCare plans and their subsidies until August 2017. That is intended to give time for a Republican president to take office, allowing for ObamaCare to be fully repealed and replaced with a GOP alternative. 

“We must set up the 2016 presidential election as a contest between health-care decisions made by Washington politicians and bureaucrats and reforms that put patients back in charge,” Johnson wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last week previewing his proposal. 

The bill would also repeal ObamaCare’s mandates for individuals and employers to provide insurance, which Johnson argues are a burden.

ObamaCare’s designers worried that without the mandate to buy insurance, people would wait until they got sick to buy insurance, driving up premium costs.    

The plan goes further in allowing people to keep their ObamaCare plans than other Republican proposals. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has a proposal that would allow people to keep their plans for 18 months through a new tax credit that is wound down over that period of time. Johnson’s plan, in contrast, would allow people to keep their original ObamaCare subsidies. 

Three Senate Republican chairmen have sketched out a separate plan that would also include some form of temporary assistance to allow consumers to keep plans. Three House Republican chairmen have another plan that is so far silent on the issue of whether to provide temporary assistance.

Johnson’s plan has 29 Republican co-sponsors, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). 

Don Stewart, a McConnell spokesman, said Tuesday that the committees of jurisdiction are continuing to work and McConnell’s sponsorship does not mean the bill is the single Republican proposal. Stewart said that McConnell also supports Sasse’s plan, and is “reviewing other proposals."