New ObamaCare plan emerges in House

New ObamaCare plan emerges in House

House Republicans appear to be coalescing behind a plan that would give states the option of keeping ObamaCare subsidies if the Supreme Court rules against the healthcare law.

The plan, presented Wednesday by Rep. 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.), would give block grants to states that want them, according to lawmakers who attended a briefing. States would get to choose how to spend the money to cover people in their state. The grants would last for two years, giving the next president a chance to enact an alternative to ObamaCare.

But if states decided not to accept the block grants, residents would be allowed to keep their ObamaCare subsidies. They would also be allowed to buy any plan approved by the state, on or off the federal exchange.

The emerging House plan would also repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual and employer mandates, in a nod to conservatives who are pushing to scale back the law. Top members of the House Freedom Caucus and the Republican Study Committee both appeared receptive to the plan on Wednesday.

“It block-grants the money to states that opt in to our state program, and then they can set up their own exchange; they can give tax credits; they can set up health savings accounts; they can do whatever they want,” said Rep. John FlemingJohn Calvin FlemingCoast Guard suspends search for missing Ohio plane Freedom Caucus member to bring up bill on impeaching IRS chief GOP seeks to make it 52 MORE (R-La.).

Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), a co-chairman of the House GOP Doctors Caucus, offered early approval for the plan because the amount in block grants offered to each state would be equal to the amount of money people in the state are now receiving in insurance subsidies.

He said he believes the approach would be particularly popular in states with both a GOP governor and legislature, such as in his home state of Tennessee. Other states, like New York, he said, could keep every part of the Affordable Care Act.

Rep. Charles BoustanyCharles William BoustanyDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Americans worried about retirement should look to employee ownership Top Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns MORE Jr. (R-La.) said the plan could include “safe harbor,” to allow people to keep their subsidies until the end of the year, when the block grants would kick in.

Boustany said that, after two years, ObamaCare would sunset as a whole, sometime in 2017.

For many members, the House briefing offered the first chance to hear details from leadership about their likely proposals, which won’t be made public unless the justices rule against the law in King v. Burwell. A decision in the case could come as early as Thursday.

While House lawmakers left their meeting describing the outlines of the plan presented to them, Senate Republicans emphasized they did not have a consensus after their separate strategy session.

Asked if Senate Republicans came to any kind of consensus, Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynLawmakers feel pressure on guns Kasich’s campaign website tones down gun language after Florida shooting Murphy: Trump’s support for background check bill shows gun politics ‘shifting rapidly’ MORE (R-Texas) replied, “No.” Asked the same question separately, Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCongress punts fight over Dreamers to March Pence tours Rio Grande between US and Mexico GOP looks for Plan B after failure of immigration measures MORE (R-S.C.) laughed and also said, “No.”

The Senate’s briefing, which was led by two GOP chairmen, Sen. 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.), highlighted multiple proposals that have been put forward in the chamber.

Barrasso said he presented a “broad outline of what we’ve been working on with the House” that would temporarily extend healthcare subsidies through at least the 2016 elections.

“I think there’s kind of an amalgamation of plans and ideas of different members that we’ve had out there that we’re trying to put together, but at this point, it’s still a work in progress,” said Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneFlake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March The 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework MORE (R-S.D.).

He mentioned competing plans from Sens. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonTrump spars with GOP lawmakers on steel tariffs Overnight Regulation: Trump unveils budget | Sharp cuts proposed for EPA, HHS | Trump aims to speed environmental reviews | Officials propose repealing most of methane leak rule Trump budget seeks savings through ObamaCare repeal MORE (R-Wis.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and a group of committee chairmen.

A plan from Johnson to continue insurance subsidies through 2017 has gained support among Senate Republicans, and Barrasso has said the plan would include some form of temporary assistance. Leaving the meeting Wednesday, Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrOvernight Finance: Senate rejects Trump immigration plan | U.S. Bancorp to pay 0M in fines for lacking money laundering protections | Cryptocurrency market overcharges users | Prudential fights to loosen oversight Senators introduce bill to help businesses with trade complaints Our intelligence chiefs just want to tell the truth about national security MORE (R-N.C.) said the plan could include some way to “grandfather” current ObamaCare subsidies.

No senator leaving the meeting mentioned the idea of providing block grants to states, even though the House presented that as its plan later in the afternoon.  

Republicans say having a plan to point to would lessen the pressure they know will come from the White House to simply restore the subsidies.

“We recognize there will be a messaging war, and so the question is, how do we position ourselves, how do we posture ourselves for what will be a messaging war?” Fleming asked. “Most of us are skeptical the president will sign anything we send him.” 

Updated at 7:55 p.m.