Ruling Elite To American People–Congress and Staff is Exempt From Obamacare Despite The Fact The Law Clearly States Congress Is Not! — Stop Funding Obamacare Now! — Sign The Petition — Videos
“Shut It Down” – New Tea Party Plan To Defund Obamacare – Jim Demint – On The Record
ObamaCare Exemptions: Sign The Petition!
Congressmen and Staff Refuse To Face ObamaCare Fees They Voted For
Congress Gets 75% Subsidy For Obamacare: Rush Limbaugh
Greg Gutfeld – IRS Wants Obamacare Exemption – ‘The Five’ – Fox News – 7-26-13
Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Stopping Obamacare –
We can prevent the train wreck if we defund Obamacare now
Sen. Ted Cruz Speaks in Support of his Amendment to Defund Obamacare and Stop the Amnesty Tax
Tea party senator Mike Lee would rather shut down the government than implement Obamacare
Mike Lee vows to defund Obamacare; Law not ready to be implemented & will harm average Americans
Rubio Pushes Senate To Defund ObamaCare
Rand Paul stands with Mike Lee on defunding Obamacare
Obamacare Outrage! – Congress Scores Exemption For Themselves – On The Record
Special Treatment for Congress- Obamacare Exemption
Obamacare Exemption For Congress Staff Where Did They Get Authority To Do This
Congress Members & Hill Staff Fear They Can’t Afford Health Care Under Obamacare! Can America?
Health Care Pass RPT Congress Tried To Exempt Itself From Law – Obamacare -Lou Dobbs – Megyn Kelly
Obamacare requirement is delayed
Administration will fix huge increase in health care premiums for Congress
The Obama administration detailed Wednesday how the government can keep contributing to health care premiums of members of Congress and their staffers even as they purchase coverage through state exchanges tied to the president’s health care law.
Guidance from the Office of Personnel Management follows up an announcement last week that Congress and its staffers won’t face massive increases in their health care premiums next year, as many feared, because of a clause in the Affordable Care Act that compels them to buy insurance through the exchanges.
The decision stirred relief on Capitol Hill and controversy among the public. Republican opponents of the law could argue that Congress excused itself from a deleterious aspect of legislation it passed in 2010.
OPM’s new rule says congressional members and staff should buy coverage through the exchanges in the states where they reside. For staffers, that likely will mean enrolling through the District, Maryland or Virginia.
The rule also says members of Congress should designate, by October each year, which staff members work in their official offices and “therefore, must choose health plans from the Exchanges.”
The administrative fix was made because Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, put a provision into the original legislation saying members of Congress and their aides have to be covered by plans “created” by the Affordable Care Act or “offered through an exchange.”
Even though it may have been symbolic or a political ploy, the provision was approved.
Under the old system, the federal government contributed to about 75 percent of premiums; members and staffers are covered through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, but it was unclear whether the program could subsidize premiums of plans in the exchanges.
The OPM makes clear that members and staff still can receive the contribution, although they are not eligible for tax credits or subsidies on the exchanges.
Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican and a vocal critic of the administration’s decision, complained about the developments in a letter to congressional leaders Wednesday. When Congress reconvenes next month, the senator will introduce legislation that forces the president, vice president, political appointees and certain exempted congressional staffers to buy their health coverage through the exchanges.
“The Obamacare statute states very clearly that all Members of Congress and their staffs are to procure their health insurance through the Obamacare Exchange,” his letter said. “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. … Until Obamacare is fully repealed, those elected by the public must abide by the same law Americans are being forced to live with.”
He said the provision that allows members of Congress “to define what staff is even covered at all is particularly offensive and obnoxious.”
“It’s obviously intended to allow for a significant portion of congressional staff, like leadership staff, to be exempted from even having to deal with the Exchange at all, notwithstanding the whopping subsidy that the rule creates,” he said in his letter.
Enrollment in the exchanges — marketplaces where consumers can shop for and buy insurance — is scheduled to begin Oct. 1. Democrats and Republicans are planning significant public relations campaigns on the law during the congressional summer recess.
Members, staff will keep health-care subsidies under Obamacare
Members of Congress and Hill staffers will not lose their health-care subsidies from the government when Obamacare is implemented because of an exception proposed Wednesday by the Office of Personnel Management.
Under the current system, the government covers most of the cost of health-care premiums for members and their staffers. But an amendment to the Affordable Care Act — proposed by Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley — threw those subsidies into question, saying that members and staff must enter into the exchanges or be covered by insurance “created” by law.
The potential for staff losing the subsidies led to concerns of “brain drain” from the Hill if staffers left as a result of the increased costs.
Last week, when President Barack Obama came to the Hill to meet with Senate Democrats, he informed them that he would personally get involved to sort out the confusion, and the White House said that OPM would issue guidelines this week.
The guidelines, released Wednesday, allow for members and staff to retain their subsidies from the government, an exception in exchange for giving up “premium tax credits” that they would otherwise be eligible for under Obamacare.
“The amount of the employer contribution toward their Exchange premiums is no more than would otherwise be made toward coverage under the [Federal Employee Health Benefits] Program,” the OPM release notes.
“These proposed regulations implement the administrative aspects of switching Members of Congress and congressional staff to their new insurance plans — the same plans available to millions of Americans through the new Exchanges,” said Jon Foley, OPM Director of Planning and Policy, in a statement.
Congress and an Exemption from ‘Obamacare’?
Q: Is it true that there are bills in Congress that would exempt members and their staffs and families from buying into “Obamacare”?
A: No. Congress members and staffers will be required to buy insurance through the exchanges on Jan. 1.
Is it true that there are bills in the House and Senate that will exempt members and their staff and families from buying into Obamacare?
Several readers have asked us about Congress attempting to exempt itself from the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. A few said that a Facebook post claimed that President Barack Obama, Sen. Harry Reid and Democrats in Congress were trying to “get themselves exempted from Obamacare,” in the words of one reader.
But there is no bill in Congress calling for an exemption from the health care law. In fact, members of Congress and their staffs face additional requirements that most Americans don’t have to meet.
Under the health care law, their insurance coverage will have to switch from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the group of private insurance plans that cover 8 million federal employees and retirees, to the exchanges created by the law. Those exchanges are meant for those who buy coverage on their own, the currently uninsured and small businesses. Members of Congress and their staffs would be the only employees of a large employer in the exchanges, which are set to begin offering insurance in January.
So, why is the false “exempt” claim making the Facebook rounds? There is reportedly concern on Capitol Hill that the Office of Personnel Management, which administers the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, won’t be able to smoothly transition members and their staffs into an exchange. The concern, as a Roll Call story explained, was that the government wouldn’t be able to make contributions toward the federal employees’ premiums, at least at the beginning of 2014. That would mean employees would pick up the whole tab for their insurance policies. Right now, the government pays 72 percent of premiums on average.
The “exempt” claims were sparked by a Politico report on April 24 that said secret talks were being held by lawmakers to change the requirement to get insurance through the exchanges because of this concern. The headline on the story said “Lawmakers, aides may get Obamacare exemption.”
After the story was published, a spokesman for Sen. Harry Reid said there hadn’t been any discussions to exempt Congress from “provisions that apply to any employees of any other public or private employer offering health care.” And Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California told Politico that lawmakers and their staffs will indeed get insurance through the exchanges. “[T]he federal government will offer them health insurance coverage that they obtained through the exchanges because we want to get the same health care coverage everybody else has available to them,” he said.
We contacted the Office of Personnel Management and received this statement from an administration official: “Members of Congress will not receive anything that is not available to the public. The law doesn’t allow them to get insurance from FEHB, they are going to get insurance on the market place, just like uninsured individuals and small businesses.”
We can’t say what did or didn’t happen in any secret meetings. But we can say that no bill has been introduced to exempt members of Congress from the Affordable Care Act — and they were never exempt in the first place. Even if, hypothetically, Congress were to nullify the provision requiring members and their staffs to get insurance on the exchanges, it still wouldn’t amount to an exemption from the law. Lawmakers and staffers would be subject to the mandate to have health insurance or pay a fine, just as everyone else is.
The law provides a few exemptions from the requirement to have insurance, but only for those who earn too little to file taxes, those with financial hardships, those who can’t find affordable coverage, and some religious groups that qualify for Social Security exemptions, mainly Mennonite or Amish.
An Old Falsehood
Bogus claims about Congress being “exempt” date back to early 2010, when different health care bills were still being debated. Some Republicans claimed that Americans, except for members of Congress, would be forced into the government-run “public option” (which wasn’t part of the final bill that became law) or state-based exchanges (which are part of the law).
As we said previously, members of Congress get private health insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which actually served as a model for the exchanges. Federal workers pick from among many health plans. The exchanges would operate in the same way — like a marketplace for those shopping for private insurance.
But some Republicans pushed the idea that if the exchanges were good enough for other Americans, they should be good enough for Congress. So, an amendment by Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa was added to the Senate bill requiring that the federal government offer only health plans that were part of an exchange to members of Congress and their staffs. The law’s final language on this, written by Sen. Tom Coburn, says that: “the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are — (I) created under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act); or (II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act.”
Congressional “staff” is defined as “all full-time and part-time employees employed by the official office of a Member of Congress, whether in Washington, DC or outside of Washington, DC.” As we reported before, Coburn said the provision wouldn’t apply to those working for committees or leadership staff, and a Congressional Research Service report agreed that could be the case.
In other words, the Affordable Care Act places on lawmakers and their staffs additional requirements that don’t pertain to other Americans with work-based insurance.
Update, Aug. 7, 2013: The Office of Personnel Management issued a proposed rule on Aug. 7 explaining that members of Congress and applicable congressional staff will be required to purchase health insurance coverage through the exchanges created by the law. However, according to the proposed rule, the federal government, as the employer, will still be able to make a contribution to health insurance premiums as it currently does. The contribution will be no greater than that now offered to members and their staffs under the FEHB program, and members and their staffs will not be eligible for premium tax credits made available to other persons purchasing health insurance through the exchanges.
– Lori Robertson
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Public Law 111–148. 111th Congress
The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program. OPM.gov. accessed 3 May 2013.
Ethridge, Emily. “Health Insurance Anxiety on Capitol Hill.” 25 Apr 2013.
Robertson, Lori. “Congress Exempt from Health Bill?” FactCheck.org. 20 Jan 2010.
Jackson, Brooks. “Health Care for Members of Congress?” FactCheck.org. 25 Aug 2009.
Bresnahan, John and Jake Sherman. “Lawmakers, aides may get Obamacare exemption.” Politico. 24 Apr 2013.
Baker, Sam. “Dems won’t seek ObamaCare exemption.” The Hill. 25 Apr 3013.
Henig, Jess. “More Malarkey About Health Care.” FactCheck.org. 19 Apr 2010.
UPDATE 1-U.S. Congress wins relief on Obamacare health plan subsidies
Congress, staff, to keep federal health premium payments
* Ruling aimed at avoiding “brain drain” on Capitol Hill (Adds comments from Republicans, Pelosi, edits)
By David Lawder
WASHINGTON, Aug 7 (Reuters) – Congress has won some partial relief for lawmakers and their staffs from the “Obamacare” health reforms that it passed and subjected itself to three years ago.
In a ruling issued on Wednesday, U.S. lawmakers and their staffs will continue to receive a federal contribution toward the health insurance that they must purchase through soon-to-open exchanges created by President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.
The decision by the Office of Personnel Management, with Obama’s blessing, will prevent the largely unintended loss of healthcare benefits for 535 members of the Senate and House of Representatives and thousands of Capitol Hill staff.
When Congress passed the health reform law known as Obamacare in 2010, an amendment required that lawmakers and their staff members purchase health insurance through the online exchanges that the law created. They would lose generous coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
The amendment’s author, Republican Senator Charles Grassley, argued that if Obamacare plans were good enough for the American public, they were good enough for Congress. Democrats, eager to pass the reforms, went along with it.
But it soon became apparent the provision contained no language that allowed federal contributions toward their health plans that cover about 75 percent of the premium costs.
This caused fears that staff would suddenly face sharply higher healthcare costs and leave federal service, causing a “brain drain” on Capitol Hill.
But Wednesday’s proposed rule from the OPM, the federal government’s human resources agency, means that Congress will escape the most onerous impact of law as it was written.
The OPM said the federal contributions will be allowed to continue for exchange-purchased plans for lawmakers and their staffs, ensuring that those working on Capitol Hill will effectively get the same health contributions as millions of other federal workers who keep their current plan.
The problem surrounding the Obamacare language for Capitol Hill staff was the subject of intense negotiations in recent weeks between House and Senate leaders and the Obama administration.
Some Republicans immediately slammed the OPM decision, using it as fuel for their campaign to turn public opinion against Obamacare just as its core provisions are due to go into effect.
“While the administration has handed out waiver after waiver and exemption after exemption for the well-connected in Washington, they have done nothing to lower health care costs for families in Michigan,” said Dave Camp, chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
Camp said the OPM ruling is the “latest proof” of impending failure for the reforms and pledged that Republicans would keep trying to repeal them.
Last week, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said the language problem would have caused unintended “collateral damage” on congressional staff, causing many to leave for the private sector.
“They are a tremendous intellectual resource, people who could, shall we say, be better compensated financially outside” of government, said Pelosi, who spearheaded passage of the health care law in 2010 as House Speaker.
STILL MUST PURCHASE PLANS
Lawmakers and staff still must purchase plans on the exchanges for coverage that starts in January, OPM said, and they will not be eligible for tax credits to offset premium payments. These credits are the main federal subsidy mechanism for all other health plans purchased through Obamacare exchanges due to open in October. These tax subsidies fall off quickly as income rises.
Tim Jost, a healthcare law expert at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, said it was probably never Congress’ intention to take away federal benefit contributions from Capitol Hill employees, just to push them into them into the exchanges.
“This clarifies what they really intended to do all along,” Jost said. “Congress had subjected itself to a requirement that applied to nobody else in the country.”
Republican Senator David Vitter vowed to reverse the OPM ruling to ensure that no members of Congress, Capitol Hill staff nor Obama administration appointees get any federal subsidies for health insurance purchased on Obamacare health exchanges.
“These recent maneuverings inside the beltway are precisely why the American people rightly despise Congress,” said Vitter, of Louisiana. “Perhaps if White House appointees and Congress have to live under these same Obamacare rules, things would be changed quickly for the better.” (Reporting By David Lawder; Editing by Bill Trott and Cynthia Osterman)