AP sources: Hill leaders to brief lawmakers on health care plans should court end subsidies

Economic Indicators Associated Press

Top House and Senate Republicans plan to brief rank-and-file lawmakers on Wednesday on their plans should the Supreme Court erase federal subsidies under President Barack Obama's health care law, congressional aides said.

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Some aides said Tuesday that House and Senate leaders were working toward an agreement to temporarily continue some aid to the millions of people now receiving subsidies while curbing some requirements of the 2010 law. Others said the two chambers' leaders had no final proposals to present lawmakers and said the separate House and Senate meetings were simply designed to give lawmakers status reports and get feedback.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule this month whether subsidies under the 2010 law can continue to go to the roughly three dozen states that use the federal HealthCare.gov website and do not run their own insurance exchanges.

The lawsuit, brought by conservatives and backed by Republicans, says the law's wording limits the aid to states operating their own insurance marketplaces. Democrats say the overall bill's context makes clear that the subsidies were designed to go to residents of every state.

In the 34 states likeliest to be hit hardest should the justices erase those subsidies, about 6.4 million people receive the aid, averaging $272 monthly, according to the Health and Human Services Department. Analysts have warned that most of those people would no longer be able to afford health coverage if the assistance was ended.

Many GOP leaders want to temporarily continue some form of aid but also pare back Obama's law. Such legislation would seem likely to draw a veto from the president.

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Donald Stewart, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said GOP leaders have been working toward "a responsible approach to protect families" from the health care law. He said the meeting with Republican senators would be "the latest in a series of briefings with our members."

Several other aides spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the plans publicly.