Rep. Dave Brat stood just off the House floor Thursday, minutes after the Supreme Court had rejected the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act, and gathered his thoughts.
“Just a shocker,” the Virginia Republican said, echoing the reaction of many fellow conservative lawmakers. “How the brightest legal minds could come to that conclusion is beyond me.”
But, after the initial reaction, the big question that raced through political and policy circles, especially Republican ones, was: What happens now?
At least in Congress and the courts, probably not much. Despite expressing renewed resolve to repeal the health law, congressional Republicans know any such effort would face a certain veto from President Obama. And they are far from united on any particular plan.
Meanwhile, legal challenges to the law remain, but none poses as serious a threat as King v. Burwell, which aimed at a pillar of the law — the insurance subsidies being provided to millions of people through the federal exchange.
Most of the near-term action on the law, in fact, will occur in insurance companies, hospitals and government offices where people are working furiously to implement a complicated statute in a fast-changing environment.
“All the challenges that existed yesterday are still there,” said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. One of the biggest is making sure enough people enroll in the exchanges to make them work right.
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