GOP bill would replace ObamaCare subsidies for 18 months

GOP bill would replace ObamaCare subsidies for 18 months

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) pitched a new plan Thursday that would provide 18 months of healthcare subsidies if the Supreme Court rules against ObamaCare this spring.

The freshman senator, who was elected with strong Tea Party backing, introduced a bill that would cover 65 percent of the cost of insurance plans purchased through the federal exchanges for six months. The percent of assistance would then decline over 18 months.

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Sasse announced the bill, the Winding Down ObamaCare Act, one day after the Supreme Court heard arguments for the King v Burwell.

The GOP-backed lawsuit would erase healthcare subsidies for 8 million people who would otherwise struggle to pay for healthcare — posing a complex problem for Republicans who oppose ObamaCare but fear they’ll face the blame if health coverage is lost.

Sasse outlined the new plan in an op-ed Thursday in the National Review in which he emphasized the six months of healthcare help. It came one week after an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, in which he stressed 18 months of transitional assistance.

The new op-ed shows a recent shift in thinking among Tea Party Republicans who are facing growing pressure to oppose any move that does not repeal ObamaCare outright.

More than a half-dozen Republicans, including several committee chairmen, have put forward plans in the last two weeks. All would provide some sort of temporary financial aid in case the subsidies are struck down.

But fierce opponents of the healthcare law, like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz scolds reporter who brought up his daughters Can Democrats flip the Texas House? Today's result will provide a clue Republicans show little enthusiasm for impeachment witness swap MORE (R-Texas), have been critical about any plans that would extend, or appeared to extend, subsidies.

The Nebraska senator said he was deeply aware of the challenge fronting Republicans with the looming court case, and stressed that the party must continue to focus on “complete repeal.”

Sasse warned that Republicans face a “hostage situation” if the court rules against the Affordable Care Act, and the party fails to present a stopgap solution. If that happens, he said states would be more likely to take bait from the administration to accept help from other ObamaCare provisions.

“This is a strategic step toward our steadfast goal of fully repealing Obamacare, and beginning immediately to enact longer-term solutions,” he said.