For Republican presidential candidates, a possible Supreme Court decision overturning some Obamacare subsidies is a tricky subject.
No one in the GOP field wants to be seen as supportive of the Affordable Care Act, which was viewed unfavorably by 69 percent of Republicans in a June poll. But if the court rules against the Obama Administration, subsidies that make insurance affordable for 6.4 million Americans would be in jeopardy.
Four candidates are governors of states that would be directly affected by a court ruling because they do not have their own insurance marketplace: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Another four are sitting U.S. senators who could be forced to vote on any legislative fixes: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. (Of those, only Paul’s state would not be directly affected, as Kentucky runs its own marketplace, called Kynect.)
The candidates who are not in office currently—former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and businessman Donald Trump—have more flexibility to respond.
Here’s what the candidates have said should happen if the court strikes down subsidies in 34 states that don’t run their own marketplaces, in order of how major their plan would be:
Mike Huckabee: Wait and see
He has not yet taken a position.
Rick Santorum: Wait and see
He has not yet taken a position.
John Kasich: Ohio should fix it
“I’ve got good people working on this. We’ve chatted about this,” he told NewsMax. “If the court makes a decision that these exchanges get shut down, then we’re gonna have to figure something out in Ohio.”
Scott Walker: Congress should fix it
“This is a problem created by this president and the previous Congress,” he told Bloomberg News. “It’s something that requires a solution at the federal level. States didn’t create this problem, the federal government did. And they should fix it.”
Chris Christie: Congress should fix it
“If Congress messed up the statute, the Congress and the President created the statute; they should fix it,” he said during a trip to New Hampshire. “If they’re saying it’s not what they intended, then go back and fix it.”
Carly Fiorina: Congress should fix it
“I know that we certainly cannot leave people hanging and I have confidence that they are working on a plan in Congress now,” she told reporters. “I’m not sure if it is the plan that I would put forward, but I’m confident that they’re working on a plan.”
Marco Rubio: Pass a short-term fix, then replace the law
“Credible conservative plans have already emerged from Senator Ben Sasse, Congressman Paul Ryan and others,” he wrote on Fox News. “The goal is to provide an off-ramp for our people to escape this law without losing their insurance.”
Lindsey Graham: Pass a short-term fix, then replace the law
“I don’t think we should terminate (the subsidies) until we have a plan,” he told Politico.
Rick Perry: Pass a short-term fix, then replace the law
“You don’t turn around a huge ship just overnight. It takes a transition period,” he told RealClearPolitics. “I think most Americans, whether they’re strict conservatives economically, would find that to be out of the realm of appropriate.”
Ted Cruz: Let states opt out of Obamacare
“In a perfect world, we would take that opportunity to repeal Obamacare. At a minimum, we should allow states to opt out,” he told Politico. He later said he would push for a six-month transition to a full-blown repeal.
Rand Paul: Pass a conservative replacement now
“I would like to legalize inexpensive insurance policies, give more choice, let people choose their doctor, expand health savings accounts, help people save for their insurance,” he told Politico.
Jeb Bush: Pass a conservative replacement now
“Give broad discretion to states to create exchanges that would look more like a Republican vision of how you expand access to health care insurance,” he told the Des Moines Register. “The president’s likely to veto that. You don’t know until you get it there, though.”
Bobby Jindal: Do nothing
“Congress might be tempted to pass language extending the subsidies to the federally-run exchange, allowing Obamacare to comply with the court ruling,” he wrote in National Review. “That’s a ‘solution’ in search of a problem.”
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