With the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act about to be handed down within the next week, the focus has turned to how each political party will react, depending on how the justices rule.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who shepherded the bill into law during her tenure as speaker of the House, had previously denied Democratic discussions of a contingency plan, but earlier this week Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer led reporters to believe that Democrats had in fact discussed the range of opinions that could be issued by the Supreme Court.
“Of course we’ve discussed it,” Hoyer, D-Md., said Tuesday. “But it is our conviction that the Supreme Court is going to uphold the plan.”
Today Pelosi maintained her denial that she has ever participated in discussions considering a contingency plan in the event that the Supreme Court strikes down part or all of the health care law.
“The only meetings that I have been party to have been those where we have heralded the benefits of the plan, that tens of millions of people have already benefited from it,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said as she ticked off a list of gains written into the law.
Pelosi once again reiterated her belief that the justices will rule in the Democrats’ favor, calling the law “ironclad” on both its merits and constitutionality. Still, when pressed whether the legislation could survive if the Court strikes down the individual mandate, she admitted that popular provisions of the law, such as keeping young adults on their parents’ health care, would be “unsustainable” without the mandate.
“Just to borrow a Supreme Court metaphor, you have to eat your vegetables. You have to have the mandate in order for this to work from a financial standpoint,” she said. “The insurance companies even say that they really can’t do that unless the premiums skyrocket.”
Pelosi, who emphasized that she prefers not to speculate on hypothetical scenarios, suggested one solution to making up for lost revenue created by the individual mandate would be to adopt Democratic pay-fors first proposed during the health care reform debate before the final version of the Affordable Care Act was passed and signed into law.
“What could that be?” she said. “There could be something passed in the Congress similar to what we had originally in the House bill, which was a surcharge on the wealthy to pay for aspects of that. That was our pay-for.”
She also said states could follow the examples of California and Massachusetts to take their own action on health care.
“We’re right now in the world of speculation, and I don’t usually like to go in that world. But you’re asking, what are some of the things that could happen,” she said. “Let’s hope and pray that the court will love the constitution more than it loves broccoli, and that we will have a decision that is based on the merits and the constitution of the United States.”
The justices must rule on the health care reform law before the Supreme Court term ends at the end of the month. After not ruling on the case earlier today, the next time they are scheduled to issue opinions is Monday.