How much do congressional Republicans hate Obamacare? How determined are they to see it fail?
We may soon find out. For the first time, a constituency group to whom the GOP normally pays close attention—religious institutions—is asking for a legislative “fix” of the Affordable Care Act to make it work as intended. If the recent past is any indication, conservatives will resist any such effort on grounds that Obamacare must be repealed root and branch, not repaired or reformed.
Months of outreach to Republican Senate offices by religious leaders have yielded no official GOP support to an appeal from a broad coalition of religious denominations to ensure that church-sponsored health plans can participate in the ACA’s health insurance exchanges. Worse yet, from a partisan Republican point of view, two Democratic senators, Mark Pryor and Chris Coons, were the first responders to this call, introducing legislation late last week. Pryor is widely viewed as the GOP’s number one senatorial target in 2014.
Without the requested “fix,” as many as one million clergy members and church employees now enrolled in church-sponsored health plans could soon face the choice of leaving these plans (designed to meet their unique needs, such as the frequent reassignment of clergy across state lines) or losing access to the tax subsidies provided by the ACA to help lower-to-middle income Americans purchase insurance.
Without the “fix,” he said, clergy would be “forced out” of church plans to access the tax credits they would otherwise be entitled to receive under the law. And that in turn could threaten the viability of the plans themselves. Among the supporters of the Pryor-Coons effort are the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, and the Presbyterian Church. The legislation also enjoys the backing of the Church Alliance, a coalition of religious organizations represented by the firm K&L Gates.
It's gonna be pretty hard to tell which way this'll go. Republicans are generally pretty shameless when it comes to rewarding their constituencies with the very same government handouts that they desire to obliterate. And yet, the very same crop of Republicans have also proven time and time again that destroying Obama is worth the price of any collateral damage.
All I know is that this is gonna require a lot of praying.