Boehner pushes back on ObamaCare subsidies extension
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is pushing back against the idea of Republicans simply continuing ObamaCare subsidies if the Supreme Court cripples the law.
At a press conference Thursday, Boehner was asked why a House GOP plan included repeal of the individual mandate, which would just be “veto-bait” for President Obama, and why Republicans would not just extend subsidies through the presidential election while looking for concessions elsewhere in exchange.
“Clearly, we’re interested in protecting those millions of Americans who could lose their subsidies. But, as I said, we are not interested in protecting a fundamentally broken law,” Boehner said.
Pressed on the point, Boehner responded, “We have an obligation to do what our constituents ask of us.”
“And I think our position on ObamaCare has been perfectly clear for years now, and frankly has not changed,” he added. “As a matter of fact, I would point out that the more we learn about ObamaCare, the more we learn just how fundamentally broken it really is.”
A House Republican plan outlined Wednesday would repeal the law’s mandate requiring everyone buy health insurance, in addition to giving states a choice as to whether they accepted a new block grant of funds or continued receiving insurance subsidies.
House Republican leaders briefed their members on their plan at a meeting Wednesday.
“Our goal is to provide peace of mind to families who have coverage disrupted through no fault of their own,” Boehner said. “Yesterday we had a constructive meeting with our members and received good feedback that will help inform us as we continue to develop our plan.”
Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-La.) said Wednesday that “a lot of members had questions” at the meeting because it was the first time they were hearing the details of the plan.
But many conservatives appeared open to the plan.
Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), who leads a healthcare working group in the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said he is keeping “an open mind.”
Still, he said some members “feel we shouldn’t do anything; if the subsidies fail, they fail.”
Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), another conservative, called the plan “a good first step” on Thursday.
He said he was not bothered that states could choose to keep subsidies for two years. “That’s a 10th Amendment, you know, if they want to keep it, they’re going to keep it,” he said.
But conservatives have also said repealing the mandates, in addition to allowing an extension of subsidies, is crucial to their support. President Obama is expected to veto the legislation because of the repeal.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told “The Hugh Hewitt Show” earlier this month that Republicans would have a plan to show what the party thinks should be done, but Obama would not sign it.
“I don’t think he’s going to sign anything, frankly,” he said.