House Republicans outlined the beginnings of an “off-ramp” from Obamacare for Tuesday, in case the Supreme Court strikes down a key part of the law.
If the Court determines that federal subsidies for Obamacare enrollees are illegal, millions of people could be stuck with plans they can’t afford. Reps. Paul Ryan, John Kline and Fred Upton propose giving those people tax credits to purchase a replacement plan.
“No family should pay for this administration’s overreach,” they wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
The law states that only people who buy Obamacare “though an Exchange established by the state,” are eligible for subsidies, but the IRS has subsidized plans for millions of people who purchased them through the federal exchange. If the Court determines those subsidies are illegal, those people will have to pay the full cost of their plan.
“Americans should have an off-ramp from ObamaCare—a legislative alternative that leads them away from an expensive health-care wreck and toward a patient-centered system,” they write, and claim House and Senate Republicans have found “a great deal of consensus” on the issue.
Their plan would give those affected a fully refundable tax credit, adjusted for age. And to deal with the law itself, the plan would seek to lower costs by imposing greater competition on the insurance market, while keeping some of the most popular parts of the law, such as protection for those with pre-existing conditions.
They would get rid of the individual and employer mandates to purchase a certain level of insurance and the mandated level of coverage, allow insurance companies to compete across state lines and try to stop frivolous lawsuits through medical liability reform.
But they would continue to allow parents to keep kids up to age 26 on their plan, guarantee renewability for existing plans, and prevent insurers from imposing lifetime limits on benefits.
“We all want to take power away from Washington,” they write, referring to all Republicans. “So here’s the bottom line: Under ObamaCare, government controls your choices. Under our proposal, you will.”
It remains to be seen exactly how Republicans plan to lower costs and increase competition, while allowing people to get the level of coverage they want and protecting those with pre-existing conditions.
Republican Sen. Ben Sasse proposed a similar plan in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last week, saying those with Obamacare plans must be protected from dramatic changes to the law, and calling for Republicans to unify around long-term solutions to the law itself. But he stopped short of proposing any specific long-term solutions.