political notebook

GOP plans health law mop-up if court rules against it

Once the Supreme Court issues a ruling, “the goal is to repeal anything that is left standing,’’ said Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, a member of the party’s leadership.


Once the Supreme Court issues a ruling, “the goal is to repeal anything that is left standing,’’ said Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, a member of the party’s leadership.

Congressional Republicans intend to seek quick repeal of any parts of the health care law that survive a widely anticipated Supreme Court ruling, but don’t plan to push replacement measures until after the fall elections or perhaps 2013.

Instead, GOP lawmakers cite recent announcements that some insurance companies will retain a few of the law’s higher-profile provisions as evidence that quick legislative action is not essential. Those are steps that officials say Republicans quietly urged in private conversations with the industry.

Once the Supreme Court issues a ruling, “the goal is to repeal anything that is left standing,’’ said Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, a member of the party’s leadership.

Beyond that, “we ought to go step by step to lower the cost’’ of health care, he added, a formula repeated by numerous other Republicans interviewed in recent days.

Across the political aisle, neither President Obama nor congressional Democrats have said how they will react to a high court ruling that could wipe out the legislation they worked so hard to enact.

“We’re not spending a whole bunch of time planning for contingencies,’’ Obama said this spring. He expressed confidence the court would uphold the law, and neither he nor his aides have said what fallback plans are under discussion. “We will be prepared in any eventuality,’’ White House aide David Plouffe said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,’’ although he declined to elaborate.

Among Republicans, aides to Speaker John Boehner, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, and other key lawmakers have convened a series of meetings in recent weeks to plan a post-ruling strategy.

A Supreme Court ruling is expected within the next two weeks on a challenge to the law, which has drawn fierce opposition among most Republicans for its requirement that most individuals carry health insurance.

While three big insurance companies announced plans this past week to retain certain protections for an estimated 40 percent of all individuals who receive their coverage through work, there has been no advance word from the drug industry on how prescription costs for older people might be affected by a finding that the law is unconstitutional.

Even so, Republicans say they have no plans for ensuring continuity of a provision that reduces out-of-pocket costs for seniors with high drug expenses. This coverage gap is known as “doughnut hole.’’

Senator Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, said “I don’t think anybody intends to get involved’’ in the portion of Medicare that provides prescription drug coverage. The program is “working better than we designed it,’’ he said, referring to studies that show the program’s cost is lower than was originally estimated. The drug industry has yet to disclose its plans.

House Republicans have voted 30 times to eliminate, defund, or scale back parts or all of the health law, most recently approving a measure to wipe out a tax on medical devices.

Senate Democrats have blocked nearly all of the previous attacks. Forcing another vote would allow Republicans to signal a continued commitment to a repeal, while simultaneously requiring Democrats to take another stand on a measure that has failed to generate significant public support and might by then also have been found deficient by the Supreme Court.

Santorum adheres to jabs made previously at Romney

Rick Santorum is sticking by earlier questions he posed about former rival Mitt Romney’s authenticity, saying the points he made during the primary campaign were legitimate.

“I don’t back away from any of those things,’’ Santorum said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.’’ Santorum said in March that Republicans should give President Obama a second term because Romney wasn’t conservative enough. The former Pennsylvania senator now says “clearly, the difference between President Obama and Mitt Romney is a chasm.’’

Should Romney win in November, Santorum said he would advise Romney if asked but would not serve in his administration.

Loud protesters interrupt Romney speech in Ohio

Protesters shouted throughout Mitt Romney’s campaign appearance Sunday in Troy, Ohio.

Romney gave an abbreviated campaign speech from the bed of a pickup truck in the hometown of House Speaker John Boehner.

A small but noisy group of protesters shouted throughout his speech, which lasted about six minutes. “Romney, go home!’’ they chanted. It was the third Ohio stop on Romney’s bus tour.

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