The Obama administration has said that it doesn't have a contingency plan if the high court rules that Obamacare subsidies cannot be distributed through the federal healthcare exchange, but Republicans believe the government must be developing a fallback plan, The Hill reported
Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell has repeatedly said there is no Plan B if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs in the case. They argue that the Affordable Care Act stipulates that subsidies are to be distributed only through state exchanges. The administration insists that was not the intended spirit of the law.
"No credible person would believe that [there is not a backup plan]," Maryland GOP Rep. Andy Harris told The Hill.
"It would be executive malpractice not to have a plan, a contingency plan, for what happens when that court ruling comes down, and I'm going to assume that this government doesn't practice executive malpractice."
The Supreme Court is set to begin oral arguments in the case of King v. Burwell
on March 4.
A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs would strike a blow to the heart of Obamacare, whose financial model of affordable coverage relies on offering subsidies to low-income consumers.
Republicans insist the stakes are too high for the administration not to be drawing up alternative plans.
"It's hard to fathom that the administration would bury its head in the sand and fail to engage in any contingency planning," Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Joe Pitts, chairman of the health subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told The Hill.
Pitts intends to question Burwell on the administration's insistence it has no "backup plan" when she testifies before his panel on Thursday, according to The Hill.
Republicans meanwhile say they are preparing backup plans in the event the government prevails and the subsidies are upheld, but there is no consensus on how to proceed.
Thirty-seven states participate in Obamacare through the federal exchange. In the event that the Supreme Court rules that consumers in those states are not eligible for the subsidies, those states are likely to face pressure to set up their own exchanges, The Hill said.
But with widespread opposition
to Obamacare in some regions, it's possible that some states will refuse to opt in.
"In today's climate, there are certain number of states — probably a third of them — that are not only opposed but strongly opposed and are unlikely to create a state exchange under any amount of flexibility," Joel Ario, who helped create state exchanges under HHS, told The Hill.
"When I look at the states, I don't see it at all likely that all… federal exchange states are going to quickly change to state-based exchanges."
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