No Washington Exemption
Equal Treatment for All:
Petition: There should be no special treatment for Washington; indeed, as long as Congress and the President continue to implement the Affordable Care Act, they should abide by the law as it was written, and use the exchanges, as they have required of millions of Americans.
The Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, explicitly required Members of Congress and their staffs to participate in the new health insurance exchanges it established for anyone above a certain income who does not have qualifying insurance covered by their employers.
That means that, as written, Members and their staffs would lose the generous coverage they now have, and instead get the limited government mandated options offered by the health exchanges, and many would not qualify for their current subsidies. This would cost a Member of Congress or a staff member roughly $5,000 per year, or $11,000 per year, depending on whether he or she purchased individual or family coverage.
Nonetheless, this rule was passed as part of the law so that Members and their staffs could have first hand experience with what they’ve required of millions of their constituents, most of whom will have to pay for this insurance personally and without subsidy or employer assistance (which is explicitly precluded under ObamaCare.)
Just as Congress was going into its August Recess, the Administration – directed by President Obama, at the urging of congressional leaders – quietly announced it is creating a special exemption from the law for Congress, saving Members of Congress from voting on this. Under the new ruling, while Members and staff still will go into the exchanges, they now won’t feel any change to their premium cost.
No other American citizen gets that special exemption from the costs imposed by the law. Instead, tens of millions of Americans are looking at higher premium costs, reduced hours on their jobs, and real job losses, all cutting – sometimes deeply – into their income. Further news reports indicate that campaign committees for Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have declared a truce and agreed not to discuss the Congressional Member and Staff exemptions from ObamaCare in the run-up to the 2014 election in order not to draw attention to the issue. That’s not right, at any level.
SOURCES FOR ADDITIONAL READING:
1. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Public Law 111–146, Section 1312 (d)(3)(D). The provision does not apply to the President, the Vice President, the White House Staff, the Cabinet Secretaries, or political appointees in the Administration.
2. Michael Cannon, “Congress’s ObamaCare Waiver,” National Review Online, August 6, 2013.
3. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Public Law 111–146, Section 1312 (d)(3)(D).
4. John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman, “Congress Gets ObamaCare Fix,” Politico, August 1, 2013.
5. “OPM Issues Proposed Rule Which Details How Members of Congress and Congressional Staff will be Insured through the Health Insurance Exchanges,” Office of Personnel Management, August 7, 2013.
6. Erick Erickson, “Sources: NRSC and DSCC Declare Truce on ObamaCare Exemption for Staffers,” RedState.com, August 6, 2013.