- The Washington Times - Monday, March 2, 2015

A trio of influential Republican senators said Monday they’re closing in on a plan to help Americans who would be affected by a Supreme Court ruling that yanks Obamacare’s subsidies from two-thirds of the states.

Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and John Barrasso of Wyoming think they can help millions of people who would lose their subsidies, should the justices rule against the administration, while offering a “bridge” away from Obamacare.

The justices will hear arguments Wednesday and rule by June in King v. Burwell, a case in which challengers say the Affordable Care Act limited premium tax credits to exchanges “established by the state.”

They interpret that to mean exchanges set up by 16 states and the District, while the administration says Congress never intended to punish states that use HealthCare.gov, the federal fallback option.

If the justices invalidate an IRS rule that extended subsidies to all states, the GOP senators said affected Americans should be able to keep their coverage for a transitional period.

“It would be unfair to allow families to lose their coverage, particularly in the middle of the year,” they wrote in the op-ed pages of The Washington Post.

The senators, who want the King challenge to succeed, said their proposal would then allow states to “create better markets suited to the needs of their citizens.”

Their blueprint is similar to one outlined last week by freshman Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican who said people adversely affected by a King ruling should be able to lock in their coverage for 18 months while the GOP-majority Congress finalizes an alternative to Obamacare.

However, the senators acknowledged their plan is a work in progress.

“We have had many discussions with our Senate and House Republican colleagues on this issue, and there is a great deal of consensus on how to proceed,” the trio wrote. “Many of our colleagues have good ideas, and we look forward to working together.”

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