Ryan building Obamacare 'off ramp'
By Mark Schaaf
RACINE COUNTY — Depending on the outcome of a pending Supreme Court case, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan could play a big role in the future of the country’s health care system.
Ryan, R-Wis., is in the middle of helping draft what he calls an “off-ramp” to the Affordable Care Act. It could come into play if the Supreme Court rules that subsidies to residents in 37 states that have not set up their own exchanges are invalid, a decision that would drive up costs for millions of people.
Ryan, whose district includes Racine County, outlined the parameters of a plan earlier this month, which includes a tax credit for people in states using federal exchanges to help them buy insurance and allowing states to opt out of insurance mandates.
Now, a task force that Ryan co-chairs is hammering out the details and getting cost estimates and feedback, he said in an interview with The Journal Times. The goal is to have a plan in place by late June, when the Supreme Court ruling is expected.
Ryan said changing the Affordable Care Act is one of the reasons he wanted to chair the Ways and Means Committee, the main tax-writing committee in Congress.
“I’ve strongly felt we’ve need to articulate what we need to replace it with to really fix the problem,” which he says is higher insurance costs and less freedom of choice.
“The court ruling has the potential to accelerate the inevitable debate on what we have to do to fix our health care system,” Ryan said. “Obamacare is not the last word, it’s the first word.
“It’s kind of where I thought we’d be in 2017. But, OK, we’re here now, in 2015.”
For its part, the Obama administration recently touted that 16.4 million people have gained coverage since the law took effect five years ago and says subsidies, which are a major component of the law, were always intended to go to people in all 50 states.
Ryan attended the March 4 oral arguments in the Supreme Court. He said he left with a feeling the court will rule against the Obama administration, but acknowledged it could go either way.
In the meantime, he said a contingency plan has to be ready to go for people in states, including Wisconsin, that use the federal exchange.
“Our job, as we see it, is to immediately get plans in place to help those who are adversely affected,” he said. “Until we know what the outcome of (the court case) is, it’s hard to plan the rest.”