Add Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to the list of conservatives resisting any plan that would temporarily extend Obamacare subsidies if the Supreme Court strikes them down later this month.
The 2016 GOP White House contender told Politico he would fight a Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)-endorsed proposal to extend the subsidies through 2017, when Republicans hope a Republican president would be in office to push a comprehensive alternative to Obamacare.
Many Republicans in the House have exhibited a similar skepticism to extending the subsidies. However, the Senate GOP has begun to rally around legislation by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), which would extend the subsidies on the condition that other provisions of the law — including the individual mandate — are repealed. Thirty-one senators have signed on to the proposal, which is believed to be a nonstarter for Democrats. Policy experts also say it is an unworkable solution.
Fearing a political blowback, Republicans are scrambling to put together a back-up plan in the case that the Supreme Court rules in favor of the challengers in King v. Burwell, a lawsuit pushed by conservative activists. The challengers argue that a phrase in the Affordable Care Act disallows the flow of federal subsidies to health care consumers in states without state-run insurance exchanges. If the court agrees, some 6.4 million people in 34 states are expected to lose their tax credits, which could have an even broader impact on the health care insurance market.
In the interview with Politico, Cruz threw his support behind the so-called “off ramp” plan, an approach offered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and other House Republicans that would allow states to stop participating in most aspects of Obamacare.
“In a perfect world, we would take that opportunity to repeal Obamacare. At a minimum, we should allow states to opt out,” Cruz said.