On the heels of the freshly handed-down Supreme Court ruling on the legality of the subsidies in federally-run exchanges awarded under President Obama’s health care law, congressional Republicans are turning their attention to a budget mechanism that would fast-track a repeal of Obamacare through Congress.
The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 today in favor of the Obama administration in King v. Burwell, upholding the federal subsidies awarded under the health care law.
The case examined whether consumers purchasing health insurance on the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov, were eligible to receive subsidies. Obamacare’s plain language limited the availability of those subsidies to states operating their own exchange. However, the law’s advocates insist that the spirit of the law clearly granted subsidies to all consumers.
When the law took effect in October of 2013, just 16 states and the District of Columbia were operating their own exchanges. The remaining 34 states opted to use HealthCare.gov.
In anticipation of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Republicans crafted legislation that would have served as a response to the decision should the high court strike down the federal subsidies. One plan included extending the subsidies through 2017, while another from Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona eliminated the subsidies altogether and repealed Obamacare’s three most costly mandates.
Now, Republicans are turning to a fast-track tool known as budget reconciliation as their recourse for repealing Obamacare.
Budget reconciliation requires lawmakers to include “instructions” in a budget resolution that would require House and Senate committees to reconcile the law with the budget. House and Senate GOP leaders included broad reconciliation language in this year’s budget resolution that would allow for Obamacare’s repeal.
However, it’s not clear if that’s how the procedure will be used, and in a press conference today, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio wouldn’t commit to using reconciliation to repeal the health care law.
“There was a lot of talk of using reconciliation to deal with Obamacare—I’m sure there probably still is—but my point is there’s been no decision made as to how to pursue,” he said.
President Obama would almost certainly veto any legislation sent to his desk that rolls back his signature health care law.
Republicans are also drafting their own replacements to Obamacare, though lawmakers haven’t yet coalesced behind a plan.