“Corralling our presidentials on a plan or a solution is going to be a bit of a challenge,” said John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 3 GOP leader. “Everyone is going to be running away from — lock, stock and barrel — any connection whatsoever to the current program.”
For Republicans in the Senate, the issue is particularly urgent since GOP seats are in contention in next year’s elections in states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, Missouri and North Carolina — all of which adopted the federal exchange and are at risk of losing the subsidies depending on how the court rules. If Congress can’t find a resolution, Republicans in these states worry they’ll face a sharp backlash from people who rely on the subsidies to defray their health care costs.
“It would hurt real people. That’s something any member of Congress, any public elected official, has got to respond to,” said Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, who faces a tough reelection next year. He’s the author of a leading Republican plan to respond to the court’s ruling by extending the subsidies for 18 months, but scrapping the employer and individual mandates, a nonstarter for Democrats. “You just can’t stop something cold turkey. It’s not responsible. It’s not a fair thing to do.”