Republicans, particularly governors and senators of red states who refused to create state insurance exchanges in protest of Obama's "tyranny", are realizing far too late just who is getting screwed here should King v Burwell turn into the end of subsidies for federal exchanges.
The loss of subsidies for millions of people would also put the Obama administration on the offense for the first time to protect its signature healthcare law.
A White House crusade against the GOP would mean a firestorm of accusations that the party is taking away care and endangering lives – building up for the 2016 election.
To avoid that situation, some Republicans are floating a stopgap that would keep the subsidies in place temporarily.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) promised this week that he would introduce legislation extending the ObamaCare subsidies for 18 months after a court decision.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) hinted at a similar proposal earlier in the week, promising "a short-term solution” until a Republican can enter the White House.
The willingness to embrace the subsidies from two staunch ObamaCare foes is a major shift in tactics, signaling a growing sense of urgency within the party on the biggest court case of the year.
“I’m really, really shocked. We were all like, ‘whoa,’” one GOP Senate aide said of Hatch’s remarks about a short-term fix. “That is easily one of the most constructive things a Republican has said regarding King, ever.”
The problem, as always, the tea party hardliners in the GOP House who want to see their own constituent burn.
“There’s no reason for us to stretch out the funding for an unconstitutional extension. There’s no reason to do that. It just puts more pressure on us to adopt more ObamaCare,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told The Hill this week.
State lawmakers across the country, though, are seeking their own fallback plans. Nine states are in talks to keep subsidies by creating their own exchanges, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which would make the state’s ObamaCare customers eligible for subsidies under the current law.
Democrats argue that Congress should simply tweak any language in ObamaCare that the justices rule unconstitutional. And the White House maintains that it has no plans to prevent the massive disruption that would be caused by the ruling.
With just four months until the Supreme Court’s ruling, some Republicans are warning that time is running out for the party’s long-sought alternative.
There is no Republican alternative to Obamacare. There never will be. 8 million red state voters are going to lose their subsidies, lose their health insurance, and lose their peace of mind. And they will only have the Republicans to blame.