In a recent interview, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said conservatives and Republicans could move quickly to eliminate parts of Obamacare after the Court issues a decision in a case being heard this month, causing some to hope that the decision might end up dealing a blow to the president’s take over of the nation’s health care system.
Scalia noted that lawmakers could move very quickly to amend and eliminate parts of Obama’s health care insurance law if the Court strikes down the subsidies issued by the federal insurance exchange.
At issue is the straight language in Obamacare that maintains that government subsidies to help citizens afford the more expensive coverage forced on them by the president’s law are only available to states that set up state-based Obamacare exchanges.
Lawmakers wrote Obamacare expecting that every state would set up the exchanges, but a later Supreme Court decision determined that the federal government could not force the states to create an exchange if they didn’t want to. 37 states ended up opting out of the state-based Obamacare exchanges.
The law is clearly written to provide only those states with state-based exchanges with subsides. But when 37 states opted out of the exchanges, Obama decided on his own that all citizens would be eligible for subsidies through the federal exchange. It is this unilateral decision that the current case, King v. Burwell, seeks to overturn.
Republicans in both the House and the Senate have already offered basic ideas on how to replace subsidies if they are lost by a Supreme Court decision that invalidates Obama’s subsidies.
House members have proposed tax credits to help citizens in non-exchange states to pay for their health care insurance policies forced upon them by Obamacare. The exact amount of that tax credit has not been decided.
The House is also proposing to allow states to fully opt out of the Obamacare mandates.
For its part, the Senate has proposed a temporary program of financial assistance for lower income insurance buyers so that they can keep their insurance while Congress works out a solution to the issue.
Democrats, though, claim that neither house will be able to muster the votes to put dents in Obamacare no matter what the Court decides.
Regardless, both houses of Congress are in a waiting game until the Supreme Court releases its ruling in June.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com