Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Defusing the Supreme Court ObamaCare Time Bomb

The race on between Republicans and Democrats on how to defuse the Supreme Court time bomb . The race is about who gets the blame if the Court strikes down federal subsidies and says only states can set up these subsidies.

The time bomb is about how to handle the unhumanity of depriving 10 million people (estimates vary) of their federal subsidies, leaving them without the means of paying for health coverage.

The time bomb is concern is that the young and healthy will choose not to sign up for coverage, leaving the health insurance in a chaotic death spiral.

The time bomb for Democrats is the perception that ObamaCare belongs to them. Thanks to its unilateral passage, the Dems are sole owners of ObamaCare, and as General Colin Powell said, “ If you break it, you own it.” The news that health care premiums are about to go through the roof has lit the fuse. Insurers have already announced big double digit premiums increases, as much as 30% to 50% in key states.

The time bomb for Republicans is what alternative health plan to offer should federal subsidies go down. The health plan has to be understandable and acceptable to the public, and it has to show some degree of humanity for those stripped of federal subsidies in 34 states. If they GOP legislators fail to present a popular plan, they may lose control of the Senate since 22 of the 24 Senate seats are up for grabs in the 2016 elections.

In May, the Milbank Memorial Fund organized a secret 24-hour meeting in Chicago to discuss with state officials how to handle an adverse ObamaCare ruling outlawing federal subsidies. The Fund paid for plan tickets and hotel accommodates for as many as two state officials from effected states. Officials from 16 or 17 states attended. The discussions revolved around how to word around an federal strike-down of federal subsidies and replacing them with state subsidies. The general consensus was that Republican governors in 27 to 34 states effected would be reluctant to substitute state subsidies for federal subsidies, or helping the federal government operate exchanges on the state’s behalf.

Since the meeting was secretive, we do not know what if any conclusions were reached, but we do know the fuse is burning and we Obama administration has announced no contingency plans should the Court strike down subsidies. The administration’s position has been that a strike-down would be unthinkable, a strident and egregious act of Supreme Court partisanship.

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