WSJ openly admits what we already knew: GOP's King "fix" is a complete sham
As I’ve noted before, Republicans may try to pass a temporary patch for the subsidies, packaged with something like the repeal of the individual mandate, in hopes of drawing a presidential veto — so Republicans can then try to blame Obama for failing to fix the problem.
Today, the Wall Street Journal editorial page helpfully confirms that this idea is very much in circulation, urging Republicans to carry out this strategy. The editorial suggests Republicans rally behind plans such as the one offered by GOP Senator Ron Johnson, which would temporarily grant subsidies to those who lose them. Of course, conservatives may oppose any fix for the subsidies, because that constitutes government spending to expand health coverage and keeps Obamacare going. The Johnson plan would include repeal of the mandate, presumably to get conservatives to support it. Then the grand plan would unfold this way:
President Obama may refuse to sign any subsidies-for-deregulation deal, and he and Hillary Clinton may think they can win by refusing to compromise. But in that case the Johnson plan gives Republicans an answer that is easy to sell and understand, and liberals would then need to explain why they’re willing to deny health insurance simply because they want more political control over insurance.
If Obama vetoes the plan, Republicans have an “easy” way to prosecute the battle that will follow: Claim they offered a reasonable “compromise” designed to spare all those millions of people from getting thrown off of insurance, while lamenting that Obama refused to go along with it, all because of his intransigent refusal to let go of the throbbing black heart of tyranny at the center of his law.
In 2016, under Johnson's plan, practically no one would be enrolling via the federal exchange, and with the individual mandate gone causing rates to spike (remember, the guaranteed issue rule would still be in place), hardly anyone would be enrolling via the state exchanges either. That would essentially lock things in at whoever was still enrolled at the end of 2015 only. Assuming 95% of them renewed for 2016 and normal attrition of perhaps 2% per month, you'd be down to around 7 million by the end of the year...some 5.1 million fewer than if the King case is shot down.
Meanwhile, a King plaintiff win with no other changes to the law or the exchange scenario would mean over 8 million fewer people would be covered by the end of the year.
Finally, starting on January 1, 2017, barring any other changes, we'd be right back to the same situation if the King plaintiffs win and there was no "fix" or change of any sort: A good 6-7 million people completely SOL and another 6-7 million with sky-high premiums.
Even worse: With the individual mandate officially gone (presumably across all 50 states +DC, as opposed to it just being effectively gone in 34-37 states), Johnson's plan could potentially be even worse than no changes to the law whatsoever!
Frankly, it doesn't sound like the WSJ article itself includes anything new to Sargent, myself or anyone else who's been following the King case closely. What is eyebrow-raising, however, is that they're admitting (and openly encouraging) it so blatantly.
It may be obvious to normal people, but it bears repeating: The purpose of any modification to the ACA (or any law, for that matter) is supposed to be to improve it so that said law is more successful at it's objectives...which in this case refers to protecting patients and providing affordable healthcare.
You know, like it says right there in the title: "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act".