On Mar. 1, three U.S. Senators, all Republicans, released a newly-crafted plan that they believe could replace the Affordable Care Act.
Just days before the U.S. Supreme Court hears court case King v. Burwell, which political analysts agree is the biggest challenge to ObamaCare since the court’s controversial decision to uphold the law in 2012, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) and John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) penned a statement, although no specifics or statistics accompanied the policy agenda.
The court case is questioning the legality of how a section of the Affordable Care Act was implemented; the text of the law says states had to create and maintain their own individual health care exchanges to receive government subsidies promised in the ACA. For states that did not follow this process, the federal government allows for the creation of an exchange run by the federal government. However, these federal government-run exchanges were not to receive the same subsidies as the state-run exchanges.
Instead of fixing the problem, the Obama administration ignored the text in the Affordable Care Act and supplied the federal government-run exchanges with subsidies, breaking the law. Now, the Supreme Court has to decide whether it’s legal for the Obama administration to continue with this process or halt this part of the ACA. If the Supreme Court agrees with the federal government, then nothing will change. If they vote against the Obama administration, federally supported health care exchanges would be invalid and removed, with the 36 states relying on that program now having to create their own state-based exchange, putting millions of Americans’ health care plans in jeopardy.
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The Republican Senators have already planned a possible alternative in case the Court votes against the Obama administration. In their letter, they write that their plan would “provide financial assistance to help Americans keep the coverage they picked for a transitional period,” but did not offer any specific details on who would receive these benefits or how would they be paid for. They also write that they “will give states the freedom and flexibility to create better, more competitive health insurance markets offering more options and different choices,” but, again, did not offer specifics on this.
The Court begins hearing the case on Mar. 4, but their decision will not be revealed until June. The results of this case on ObamaCare comes nearly three years after the Court ruled 5-4 in favor of the “individual mandate," virtually allowing the ACA to continue as law. In that case, the four left-leaning members – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer – voted with the right-leaning Chief Justice John Roberts in upholding the mandate, based on the law’s ability to tax individuals to pay for the program.