Are Republicans unified in their opposition to all of Obamacare? Not according to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Gingrich was asked at a conference last week whether he agrees with members of his party who say they want to repeal the law entirely. "Well, they don't either," he responded.
Gingrich would like to do away with Obamacare's individual mandate that everyone maintain insurance, but he would not scrap the requirement that insurers provide coverage to all who want it. To avoid an insurance market death spiral, he would replace the mandate with a stipulation that guaranteed coverage applies after you buy your first policy, if you keep paying for insurance continuously.
With respect to the attitudes of his fellow Republicans, he thinks most of them see elements of the law they would like to keep. "Repeal" for them really means repealing those parts they don't like.
Or, as he put it, "if you actually went down and said 'when you said you want to repeal everything, how about these five things.' You'd suddenly find that well, 'repeal' sort of means repeal but necessarily repeal that you would really like because it's only the parts you want to repeal, it's not the parts you don't want to repeal because we are only going to repeal the things that need to be repealed."
Whether the parts of the law that individual Republicans want to repeal are considered major or minor depends on your perspective. But under this assessment, most of them see at least some Obamacare provisions that they like.
If he's right, it would be great news for ACA supporters. It means there could be room for compromise over the future of the law.
This would be especially important if the Supreme Court rules for the law's opponents in the latest legal challenge. The Court is expected to issue a decision in June in the case of King v. Burwell on whether the ACA provides subsidies for insurance purchased through the federal exchange, healthcare.gov. That is the exchange used by residents of 34 states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
A ruling against the subsidies could throw the individual insurance market in those states into chaos. Congress could easily fix the problem with an amendment to the law clarifying that subsidies are, indeed, available on all exchanges. However, Republicans who control both houses of Congress have seemed unlikely to agree to repair a law they say they want to repeal entirely. Under Gingrich's assessment, they may be more open to compromise than they have let on.
Keeping and repairing Obamacare makes sense, even for those who say they oppose it. Not only do millions of Americans now depend on the law for health insurance they could not otherwise obtain. It has also stimulated dramatic growth in health care business. By one count, Obamacare has led to the creation of more than 90 new companies that employ as many as 6,200 people.
Obamacare has overcome many obstacles, and it will face many more. But the law, at least parts of it, may have more support than many people realize.
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