May 15, 2015

ICYMI- The Hill: Top Republican drafts bill to replace ObamaCare

by Sarah Ferris

The Hill

As Republicans debate how to respond to a Supreme Court ruling on ObamaCare next month, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) promises to have a plan for what happens next.

The freshman senator plans to introduce a bill called the Patient Freedom Act in late May, which is meant to serve as “part two” to the GOP’s response to the looming court case, King v. Burwell.

Cassidy’s plan, which would let states opt out of ObamaCare mandates and instead receive tax credits for health savings accounts, would work in tandem with the GOP’s more immediate response in case the court rules against ObamaCare.

“It’s separate but complementary,” Robb Walton, who serves as the senator’s senior health policy adviser, said in an interview Thursday.

The Louisiana senator, who was previously a physician, will officially announce his plan next Thursday during a speech at the Hudson Institute. Legislative language will be released shortly after Memorial Day.

Republicans in Congress are already working on a plan that would offer temporary assistance to the approximately 7.5 million people who could lose their healthcare coverage. Cassidy’s plan would “tack onto that,” Walton said.

While Cassidy expects the plan to take between one year and 18 months to be rolled out, Walton said “states can choose to opt into this immediately.”

Under Cassidy’s plan, states can decide to eliminate all mandates for employers, individuals and insurers. While it would include incentives for people to have coverage, it would still offer catastrophic medical plans for people who don’t have insurance.

He added that the senator’s office has been ”very involved” in conversations led by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) over the last several months to craft the more immediate response.

Walton said the office is “having lots of conversations” in both chambers about the plan, with hopes of having a companion bill introduced in the House as well.

While the president has vowed to oppose any legislation that undermines his law, Walton said Republicans remain hopeful that it can gain support from both parties — particularly with 72 senators from states that could be affected by the ruling.

“I don’t think necessarily this will come down along ideological lines, if you present a solution and there’s a lot of pressure in that state, I think it’s hard for Democrats to [oppose it],” he said.