POTUS is not waiting for the ball to snap on the next conservative offensive against ObamaCare. He’s using a new defensive line meant to save his signature program and it’s not DC lobbyists, but rather ObamaCare enrollees.
The House of Representatives voted to repeal ObamaCare yesterday. It was a party line vote with all the Democrats voting against repeal. Three lonely Republicans joined them. Since the President will veto any bill to repeal ObamaCare, this was largely a symbolic vote. Potentially more devastating to ObamaCare in the medium run is Halbig v. Burwell, the lawsuit before the Supreme Court that challenges the legality of subsidies in certain circumstances.
To head off repeal and get out ahead of a potentially adverse ruling on subsidies, the White House is inviting a group of Americans who have benefitted from the healthcare law but who could lose the subsidies that enable them to buy policies to meet him for a photo op. In recent weeks, the Administration has been pushing ObamaCare’s success stories.
The White House is smart enough to know that personal stories are an effective tool in creating emotional appeal and support. What they’re trying to do is set conservatives up ad being against sick people or poor Americans who have managed to get healthcare coverage only because of the subsidies that are now in jeopardy.
The Hill reported yesterday when the repeal bill was up for a vote:
“Today’s meeting comes as Republicans in the House of Representatives vote to repeal the law and take these benefits away from millions of Americans,” a White House official said.
“Congress has tried to repeal or undermine this law more than 50 times, but the President will continue to stand with the families who have better care and choices as a result of the law.”
The White House meeting also comes with less than two weeks left until the Feb. 15 open enrollment deadline. The administration has said it hoped to enroll 9.1 million people by the deadline, although 9.5 million have already selected a plan or reenrolled in their current insurance.
The White House has worked hard to highlight those benefiting from the law in recent weeks.
After the State of the Union, Obama granted an interview to YouTube celebrity Hank Green, who said he suffered from a chronic illness but was able to reduce his prescription costs because of ObamaCare. Green went on to ask Obama to sign a picture of his pharmacy receipt.
The GOP had better be prepared for the personal stories the White House will put forward in the event that Halbig goes against them. The GOP might be wise to consider some kind of temporary fix to help people who will be harmed immediately if the subsidies are ruled illegal. After all, it wasn’t their fault that the Administration put them in jeopardy by passing a jerrybuilt health care law.
The fight on ObamaCare is not over. It was always a bad deal, but it’s not a done deal.