- The Washington Times - Monday, January 12, 2015

A Supreme Court case that could cut off Obamacare’s subsidies to 34 states presents a “great opportunity” for Republicans to unravel the contentious overhaul, Rep. Tom Price said Monday.

But the GOP better be ready to step in with an alternative, should the justices decide in June that the Affordable Care Act reserved premium tax credits for customers on health exchanges set up by the states.

Mr. Price threw his support behind the challenge, which says the IRS unlawfully extended subsidies to states that decided to rely on the federal portal known as HealthCare.gov.

“This unravels Obamacare pretty darn quickly. That’s a good thing,” Mr. Price, Georgia Republican and chairman of the House Budget Committee, said at a conservative policy summit hosted by the Heritage Foundation in Washington.

Mr. Price and other GOP lawmakers have submitted alternative health reform plans, but the party has not coalesced behind one plan and put it on the floor.

President Obama’s veto pen dampens their prospects for repealing the health care law before they can replace it. So GOP leaders who now control both sides of the Capitol are increasingly pointing to the Supreme Court case, King v. Burwell, as their best chance to dismantle the law and step in with their own plans.

Without the tax credits, the health coverage through the federal exchange will become unaffordable for many and could kick up to 8.2 million people off their insurance, according to a study by the Urban Institute.

The justices should rule by June, but it’s unclear if the GOP will be ready.

“Boy, I sure hope [we will be], but I’ve hoped so for the last five, six years,” Mr. Price said.

GOP lawmakers have pointed to an arcane budget tool — reconciliation — as a way to repeal a chunk of the law. However, some lawmakers want to keep that arrow in their quiver so they can use it on tax reform.

Mr. Price endorsed its use Monday, but acknowledged its limits. Much of how the process can be used to achieve policy aims is up to the Senate’s key reference, the parliamentarian.

“It’s a powerful tool, but it’s not a silver bullet,” Mr. Price said.

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