An elegant ObamaCare solution

Obamacare_TrainwreckPolitical Washington is all atwitter over the upcoming Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell, which could strip away the federal subsidy payments from ObamaCare.

What to do, what to do, worry the congressional Republicans. Running on repealing ObamaCare, they now face the fear of a rising government healthcare dependency class mobilizing against them in 2016, and they are scrambling for cover.

Enter Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) with pandering legislation that would continue the subsidies through 2017, effectively creating a permanent entitlement voting block in favor of federally funding the ObamaCare expansion, while tearing the moral underpinning against government-run health insurance asunder.

Ted Cruz 2016

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What D.C. politicians are missing is the most elegant and honest solution of them all to the anticipated King v. Burwell conundrum. Keep the federal government’s commitment to provide subsidies for the remainder of 2015 as participants made choices based upon that false promise this year, and then end it. Those who make healthcare decisions for 2016 will do so without the illusion of the federal government offsetting their costs, while making them whole for the current year.

This would allow voluntary ObamaCare participants to make healthcare cost decisions based upon what is available and their ability to pay.

For this to work, Congress also needs to take one additional step: They need to tie the six-month subsidy extension to the immediate elimination of ObamaCare’s individual mandate, severing the requirement that those who cannot afford to buy health insurance are compelled to purchase it anyway or face a federal government fine.

Woodrow Wilcox

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Let the Democrats vote to force low-income Americans to buy health insurance and against continuing the federal subsidies until the end of the year, or let President Obama veto it.

As an added bonus, another net effect of not participating in the ObamaCare system is that if King v. Burwell is decided in favor of the plaintiffs, private employers in those states will not be covered by the employer mandate under the law. This effectively pulls the rug out from under all three legs of the ObamaCare stool: subsidies, compelled individual participation and compelled employer participation.

Should Democrats choose to leave the individual mandate intact while denying further funding of subsidies for the remainder of the year, they will have chosen to compel the people to purchase a product they don’t want while denying those who did purchase it the subsidies that were illegally promised.

This is a simple, easy-to-understand solution that allows Republicans to treat people who were duped into choosing a health insurance product based upon the unconstitutional free money commitment fairly, while being applauded by the more than 4 million payers of the individual mandate tax. It also puts pressure on those who represent the 13 states who are still under ObamaCare due to the loss of competitiveness for their businesses vis-a-vis competitors located in the other 37 states.

The downside risk of extending subsidization even for six months is that Congress could choose to rubber-stamp continued subsidies in the future, like they did for decades with the so-called “doc fix” in Medicare. Sen. Johnson’s three-year subsidy proposal points directly at this very real danger. The only protection in the Senate would be 41 senators to refuse any proposal that delinks the subsidies and the elimination of the individual mandate.

Given Senate Republicans’ consistent stand in favor of repealing ObamaCare, it is hard to imagine such a reversal in a core political issue in an election year. But then, we have just seen these same Republicans embrace giving Obama an enormous grant of power through fast-track trade authority in spite of their anti-power grab election rhetoric, as well as their decision to fund Obama’s executive amnesty almost immediately after their campaigning against it.

The 2016 election should be about the post-ObamaCare future of healthcare, rather than how to save a system that clearly is collapsing under its own weight. Republicans who support any proposal to continue subsidies without eliminating the individual mandate as a precondition of that extension will have effectively taken the side of arguing in favor of saving the system that they have so publicly reviled.


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Rick Manning is the President of Americans for Limited Government and the former Public Affairs Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of Labor. Americans for Limited Government is dedicated to putting the principles of limited government into action. They work with local groups across the nation to promote freedom, limited government, and the principles of the U.S. Constitution. Their goal is to harness the power of American citizens and grassroots groups in order to put the people back in charge in states across the country.
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