(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Sen. David Vitter today introduced his amendment to stop the Obamacare exemption for Congress. Vitter’s legislation requires all Members of Congress, all Congressional staff, the President, Vice-President, and all political appointees within the administration to purchase their health insurance on the Obamacare Exchange and receive the same amount of financial support from tax credits or subsidies as any American would outside of Washington.
“Americans are struggling with the ongoing Obamacare train wreck every day. They’re losing the coverage they liked, seeing their premiums skyrocket, and finding it hard to enroll in anything new. But what makes it even worse is that while all this is going on, Washington elites have carved out a special exemption and subsidy for themselves,” Vitter said.
Vitter filed his amendment to the Shaheen-Portman Energy Efficiency bill today. Last fall Vitter fought to get a vote on his legislation, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blocked his attempts. However, Reid did agree to give Vitter a vote in the future. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) were also open to giving Vitter a vote.
Currently members of Congress and their staff members are still eligible to receive taxpayer funded subsidies ($5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for a family) to pay for their health care. Those same subsidies are not available to any other American.
Additional points about Vitter’s legislation:
• Clarifies that members do not have the authority to define "official staff" and can thereby not exempt any of their staff from going into the exchange (current Senate rules and the OPM proposal gives discretion to the individual offices).
• Prohibits Members, political appointees, President and Vice President from receiving tax-payer funded contributions in the form of subsidies, tax credits, or employer contribution to purchase insurance on the exchange- as in most of these cases they earn well above the maximum income ($46,000 individual/$92,000 family) and would otherwise be ineligible for subsidies or tax credits as defined in the statute.
Additional points on why this legislation is necessary:
• The Obamacare statute states very clearly that all Members of Congress and their staffs are to procure their health insurance through the Obamacare Exchange. Just as clearly, it does not reconstitute government support of their present coverage under the separate Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP) as payment toward the Exchange.
• No ordinary American at the same income level buying on the Exchange would receive any government subsidy, much less one worth approximately $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for a family, under the OPM rule for Congress only.
• This illegal rule not only gave Congress a special subsidy that is completely contrary to the Obamacare statute, but it also illegally gives authority for Members of Congress to exempt their staff from the requirements of the law.
• On October 25th Senators had to issue documents determining which amongst their staff would be deemed “official” and be required to purchase insurance on the Exchange, and which staff would get an exemption.
• This gave the Senate Majority Leader a window to exempt a bulk of his staff from Obamacare, undermining the full intent of the law.
“All I did was follow the law. The law says that if you have committee staff, leadership staff, they stay where they are. If you have other staff, which is most everyone, they go to the exchanges. I followed the Affordable Care Act. It is the law.”– Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), radio interview, Dec. 5, 2013