GOP chairman: No ObamaCare extension if court cripples law

GOP chairman: No ObamaCare extension if court cripples law
© Greg Nash

House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) said Thursday that he does not support an idea backed by Senate Republican leadership to temporarily extend ObamaCare subsidies if the Supreme Court cripples the law. 

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“I don’t think that I would be able to be supportive of continuing the subsidies beyond what the court would allow,” Price told The Hill. 

A plan from Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGun proposal picks up GOP support GOP lawmaker to unveil bill banning gun bump stocks Senate Homeland Security chairman backs bump-stock ban after Las Vegas shootings MORE (R-Wis.) to continue the subsidies until 2017 has been co-sponsored by Senate Republican leaders; Price becomes one of the most prominent Republicans to come out against the idea. 

The idea behind the temporary continuation is that if the Supreme Court invalidates subsidies for around 7.5 million people in the case of King v. Burwell, the party does not want people to immediately lose their insurance. The extension is intended to give time for a Republican alternative to be put in place. 

But Price wants to move sooner to a full Republican alternative instead of going to a temporary bridge option first. 

On Wednesday, he reintroduced his Empowering Patients First Act, a plan he has also put forward in previous sessions of Congress. The bill would repeal ObamaCare and replace it with refundable, age-adjusted tax credits for buying insurance. It would give grants for high-risk pools as an insurance option for people with pre-existing conditions. 

The budget passed by Republicans sets a deadline of July 24 for submitting to each chamber’s Budget Committee a Republican contingency plan if the Court strikes down the subsidies. The plan could then go through the process known as reconciliation that requires only 51 votes instead of 60 in the Senate. 

Asked if House and Senate Republicans could agree on a plan before then, Price said, “I think so.”

There are currently multiple competing plans. Johnson, as well as Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhatever you think the Alabama special election means, you’re probably wrong This week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform Week ahead: Senators work toward deal to fix ObamaCare markets MORE (R-Texas) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Tillerson, Trump deny report of rift | Tillerson says he never considered resigning | Trump expresses 'total confidence' in secretary | Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts GOP establishment doubts Bannon’s primary powers MORE (R-Fla.), have all put forward plans. 

Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoDems lambaste Trump’s ‘outrageous’ EPA chemical safety pick Overnight Regulation: EPA misses smog rule deadline | Search is on for new HHS chief | ACLU sues over abortion pill restrictions | Justices weigh gerrymandering Price resignation sets off frenzy of speculation over replacement MORE (R-Wyo.) is leading a working group with other chairmen to come up with a Senate plan. 

While Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform MORE (R-Ky.) has co-sponsored Johnson’s plan, he is not endorsing it as the only Republican solution, and also supports Sasse’s plan.  

In the House, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul RyanPaul RyanThe Hill Interview: Budget Chair Black sticks around for now Gun proposal picks up GOP support GOP lawmaker Tim Murphy to retire at end of term MORE (R-Wis.) is working with two other chairmen on another plan. Ryan has said he wants the plan introduced and scored by the Congressional Budget Office before the court’s ruling, expected in late June. 

Price said he has given that group his input. 


The conservative Republican Study Committee is also working on a plan in the House. Chairman Bill FloresBill FloresGun proposal picks up GOP support Gingrich: Banning rapid fire gun modification is ‘common sense’ GOP lawmaker to unveil bill banning gun bump stocks MORE (R-Texas) said last month that he had not yet decided whether to support a temporary extension of ObamaCare subsidies.