Freshman Sen. Bill Cassidy has put forth a proposal to deal with healthcare if the Supreme Court delivers a crippling blow to Obamacare in the King v. Burwell case.
The Louisiana Republican's plan "achieves the aims of the Affordable Care Act without the cost and the mandates," Cassidy, himself a physician, told the Hudson Institute in Washington in response to criticism from Democrats and the press that Republicans have no alternative if Obamacare is struck down.
"We have a plan and this is our moment."
The Supreme Court could hand down a ruling as early as next week that would end Obamacare subsidies to 37 states and make healthcare coverage unaffordable for many.
Under Cassidy's Patient Freedom Act, he explained, all mandates now required under Obamacare are repealed. These include the individual and employer mandates, and the Essential Health Benefits mandate requiring plans to cover an array of potentially unwanted services. Right now, the physician-senator estimates, "Americans are paying 400 percent more in the cost of healthcare because of the mandates."
For Americans who are uninsured, Cassidy said, "this will help make insurance more affordable."
Another change from Obamacare that makes his Patient Freedom Act cost-friendly is that funding would go directly to the patient. This process would occur in the form of "per capita bloc grants to the states or federal tax credit funding," the senator said.
He also asserted that the Patient Freedom Act would ensure portability — that is, being able to keep one's healthcare plan after changing jobs or moving — and "doing so without any penalty." In addition, his plan would permit "continuous coverage to protect those with pre-existing conditions" and would also permit young people to remain on their parents' plans until they are 26.
Although the latter two items are now contained in Obamacare, Cassidy's plan also contains a fresh proposal that "healthcare providers must publish the cash price for services that can be reimbursed from an HSA [Health Savings Account]," he said. "Under our plan, you have the power, not the government."
Newsmax recalled how last year, hundreds of thousands of Americans satisfied with their healthcare plans suddenly found them canceled under Obamacare. Legislation offered by House Energy Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., to guarantee that Americans could keep a healthcare plan if so desired resoundingly passed the House but was thwarted in the Senate, which was then in Democratic hands.
Would an Upton amendment work following a Supreme Court decision to end the subsidies?
"I spoke to some of the insurance companies recently," Cassidy told us, "and they said that so many old plans were lost under Obamacare and the regulations have changed that to put [them] back together to make them work was almost impossible. There really was a scorched earth policy [to existing plans] under Obamacare."
However, he quickly added, "we know the market works. We can plant the seeds to return to what we once had."
As the nation waits for what the Supreme Court will do in King v. Burwell, Cassidy said that if it rules in favor of the plaintiff and Obamacare suffers a severe wound, Republicans "can sit idly by as 5 million Americans lose their healthcare protection. Then the president will hold a news conference and bring in a woman in the middle of chemotherapy who couldn't have further treatment and say this is what happens as a result of the ruling.
"Or, we can say 'we have a plan.' This is our moment."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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