King v. Burwell Focus of 10th Capitol Caucus

The 10th annual AAPAN Capitol Caucus Public Policy Forum featured a lineup packed with insight from members of Congress who discussed the political and health care challenges facing lawmakers and the nation as a whole.

The fate of the Affordable Care Act – via the upcoming King v. Burwell Supreme Court decision – was front and center for each of the speakers.

“If the plaintiff is successful, we will be prepared to offer our suggestions for the best way forward for the country to deal with a law that none of us was a good idea in the first place – at least on my side,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky.

Senator Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, said a difficult political and policy environment would follow a decision to overturn the Affordable Care Act – and he expects the health care marketplace will continue to evolve, no matter what the Supreme Court decides.

“There’s never been a rollback to a middle class entitlement,” he noted.

Senator Bob Casey, Democrat of Pennsylvania, said lawmakers must keep an open mind about the law, no matter what the Supreme Court decides.

“I’ve tried not to join either caucus – the ‘repeal it now’ caucus and the ‘it’s perfect don’t touch it’ caucus,’” he said. “I’ve tried to keep an open mind and listen. We do have to be careful when we are talking about wholesale changes, especially when we are talking about Medicaid.”

Rep. Bob Dold, R-Illinois, repeatedly stressed the need for bipartisan solutions on health care – but that a Supreme Court decision to repeal the Affordable Care Act would have a significant impact on Congressional activities this year.

“Should the decision go against the administration, it will suck the oxygen out of Washington and everybody will be talking health care, health care, health care,” he said.

Rep. Diane Black, R-Tennessee, put it succinctly: “I believe we should repeal Obamacare. I don’t believe we can fix it.” In the meantime, however, she said Congress is working to make improvements to the law.

Josh Trent, a professional staff member on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, said Republicans in Congress have ideas about what health care should look like and are prepared to offer solutions in the wake of the King v. Burwell decision.

“Members thematically want to devolve more authority to the states – with less mandates and more choices,” he said.