To see how conflicted Republicans are over Obamacare’s insurance subsidies, just look at Louisiana.
The state’s governor, Bobby Jindal, insists retaining any part of the healthcare law is a concession to Democrats. But its freshman senator, Bill Cassidy, has written a plan to keep the subsidies permanently for poor people if the Supreme Court blocks them this summer.
“There will be people — real people — whose lives will be affected,” Cassidy told the Washington Examiner on Tuesday. “Sitting idly by while they lose their health coverage — that is not an option for me.”
Cassidy and Jindal’s differences over how to respond to the King v. Burwell case are reflected on a larger scale in Congress, where the GOP is struggling to agree on a response should the court rule the subsidies illegal in Louisiana and the other 36 states relying on healthcare.gov.
The dispute is over a few lines of text in the Affordable Care Act which refer to subsidies flowing to states running their own insurance marketplaces. The challengers argue that excludes federal-run marketplaces, but the Obama administration disagrees.
Tea Party Republicans are likely to resist efforts to reinstate the subsidies, viewing it as a concession to Obamacare. But party leaders feel they ought to do something in case the subsidies are struck, although President Obama would likely veto a continency plan if it also undermined the law in other ways.