Possible fixes to health care law if SCOTUS axes subsidies

Sen. Sasse weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 4, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Now, if those premiums go up, the argument is that it becomes a political football, Democrats will say Republicans are going to have to take the fall, this is all because of them.

But Republican Senator Ben Sasse has a fallback plan for that.

What is it, Senator?

SEN. BEN SASSE, R-NEB.: Hey, Neil. How are you?

CAVUTO: Very good.

SASSE: Good -- good to be with you.

Hey, the rule of law should be upheld based on the case we heard this morning, and ObamaCare should be struck down in these 37 states. But a lot of those six million people, as you were talking about with Dr. Barbour, could be disrupted through no fault of their own.

A lot of these people didn't want to be on ObamaCare. The individual market was eviscerated. We should provide them with a temporary transitional escape hatch. There should be an off-ramp out of ObamaCare. And I think we could use the COBRA law to do that.

The worst thing that could happen after we win this case is if anybody tries to save ObamaCare. ObamaCare should be on the dustheap of history. And three-quarters of the states may have these illegal subsidies from HHS struck down. We should do nothing to fix ObamaCare, don't extend it, don't expand it, don't baptize their legality.

But we should help the six or seven million people who are caught in this web of ObamaCare. We should help them exit, and we could use COBRA to do that, the way people have done when they leave jobs.

CAVUTO: All right, so something in the interim to cover them, because right now, if this were to happen, you have technically millions of people who could be without coverage.

How quickly would this replacement COBRA, whatever you want to call it, happen? Because that's legislation. That's something that a Senate has to do, House has to do, all of you have to approve. It hops to the president. It's a tall order, isn't it?

SASSE: Oh ,it's a very tall order.

But let's distinguish between these two things. We need to end ObamaCare once and for all by fully repealing it, and we need to replace it. That conversation, though, about a full replacement plan, we need a presidential election to do that, because you know this guy isn't going to sign it.

So, what I'm proposing is that, in addition to fighting about the full replacement plan over the next 18 to 24 months, we need this bridge transitional plans for COBRA, because the administration tried, really cynically, to set up a moment where they could take hostages this next summer.

If the rule of law is upheld by the Supreme Court in King vs. Burwell and if these illegal subsidies are struck down, the administration tried to create a moment where there will be a whole bunch of suffering people among these six or seven million people, so they could put pressure on Republicans in Congress or governors in the 37 states to try to expand ObamaCare.

We should never expand ObamaCare. But we should explain that we have a plan for transitional assistance as these people exit. If the president didn't want to sign that, it's because he puts ideology over patients.

CAVUTO: What is going to happen, though, is he's going to blame you for wrecking a plan that's going to leave millions without insurance.

There's nothing the Senate or the House can do without his signature in the interim. I know you say, sir, that it's something you want to resolve in the next presidential election. But you could face the possibility where millions are losing insurance, and they're going to blame you guys.

What do you think of that?

SASSE: That is absolutely what this administration has tried to set up.

They have tried to -- so remember a few facts. They acted illegally, and I hope that's what the court finds. They will have acted illegally in these 37 states. And then when the court says you can't act illegally, they will say the solution to us having acted -- the administration having acted illegally is that governors or the Republican Congress should baptize their legality, expand ObamaCare and have a new open enrollment season that takes us from 10 million enrolled to 21 or 22 million enrolled.

That's hogwash. What we should do is not fix ObamaCare, not expand ObamaCare, not extend ObamaCare, but provide transitional assistance for the six million people who are going to be harmed. And I'm afraid that this administration really is planning to take hostages.

We're going to have to make a case to the American people that we need long-term comprehensive, genuine patient-centric reform. We can also help protect these patients. We don't need to do it in ObamaCare, though. We need to transition them out via COBRA.

CAVUTO: All right, Senator, thank you very much. We will watch this close. We appreciate it.

SASSE: Thanks, Neil.

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