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 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.), 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.

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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 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 BoustanyTop Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns Controversial House Republican gains national attention after filming Auschwitz video Democrats, Republicans must work together to advance health care 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 CornynMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Air Force makes criminal reporting changes after Texas massacre We need a better pathway for allowing civilians to move guns across state lines MORE (R-Texas) replied, “No.” Asked the same question separately, Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration We are running out of time to protect Dreamers US trade deficit rises on record imports from China MORE (R-S.C.) laughed and also said, “No.”

The Senate’s briefing, which was led by two GOP chairmen, Sen. 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.), 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 ThuneMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees 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 Dems push for more money for opioid fight MORE (R-S.D.).

He mentioned competing plans from Sens. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOvernight Cybersecurity: Panel pushes agencies on dropping Kaspersky software | NC county won't pay ransom to hackers | Lawmakers sound alarm over ISIS 'cyber caliphate' GOP chairman warns of ISIS's ‘cyber caliphate’ Overnight Finance: House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama | GOP leaders to consider Dec. 30 spending bill | Justices skeptical of ban on sports betting | Mulvaney won't fire official who sued him 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 BurrSessions argued presidents can obstruct justice in Clinton impeachment trial Trump Jr. to meet with Senate panel amid Russia probe Trump’s Russian winter grows colder with Flynn plea deal 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.