(RELATED: The Republican Wrinkle in Repealing Obamacare's "˜Cadillac Tax')
Although Sasse's bill hasn't gained much traction, Johnson's currently has 31 cosponsors, including Barrasso. It would allow individuals to keep any health care plan and subsidy until August 2017. It also would repeal the individual and employer mandates, and amend "essential" health benefits and benefit packages to mean those defined by the state in which the health plan is offered.
"We're drafting legislation, but we're not likely going to introduce something until we know what the Court actually does," Barrasso said. "When you take a look at the last time the Court ruled on the health care law, they came out with a ruling that nobody anticipated. So we're going to want to see exactly what they do. And we'll respect the ruling of the Court, and our legislation will reflect that."
Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, echoed Barrasso's concerns about preemptively introducing legislation, but he said Republicans will be "well-prepared."
"We're having good discussions and we're drafting legislation and getting a score from the Congressional Budget Office about different options," Alexander said in an interview. "We're talking with members of the House of Representatives, so there's no need for us to announce a plan until we know whether we need a plan. We don't know what the Supreme Court will decide."
Waiting may be a good strategy. Justices could go in any direction or come up with a relatively novel way to write a decision. The Supreme Court after all, is predictably unpredictable—everyone remembers the 2012 ruling when it upheld the Affordable Care Act as a tax, rather than via the Commerce Clause.
Dan Mendelson, CEO of Avalere Health, an independent consulting firm, believes a King loss might actually be the safest scenario for everybody, not just Democrats.
"In that situation, I think the Republicans breathe a sigh of relief privately, but continue to decry the Affordable Care Act publicly," he said. "They don't wake up in the morning and want to deny low-income individuals insurance. In a lot of ways, they get to retain the rhetorical fight without damaging anybody."
Yet the Obamacare war will continue. After all, the court case at its core is over four words ("established by the state") in the Affordable Care Act; an Obamacare win "doesn't say it's a good law," Mendelson said.
So then what would it take for the attacks on Obamacare to end?
Mendelson views several different factors as critical to a cease-fire: exchange stability, a critical mass of enrollees, and a Democratic winner in the 2016 election.
"Right now, the Republican Party does not have a political incentive to embrace the Affordable Care Act because they're still getting returns for going negative on it," Mendelson said.