Is Congress exempt from Obamacare? Some recent news has some people wondering if thisold debate over the Affordable Care Act is about to be revived.
In a related report by The Inquisitr, when it comes to Obamacare, congress’ exemption status is both a fact and a falsehood at the same time depending on how you look at the situation. The usage of the word “exemption” has become highly politicized, similar to how people fight over whether the Obamacare penalty is a fine or a tax.
The beginning of the debate started in 2010 when Republican Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) inserted this paragraph into the original Affordable Care Act:
“Notwithstanding any other provision of law… 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 (or an amendment made by this Act).”
The long and the short of it is that in 2013 the members of Congress became quite concerned their tens of thousands of staffers would quit for jobs with better health benefits. In the end, the Office of Personnel Management decided that Congressional staffers would keep their cushy subsidized healthcare but they’d still need to shop for health care plans on their own. This decision was controversial because it sidestepped the provision in the health care law that limited access to the cheaper small business exchanges to employers with less than 100 employees (or 50 in 2014). Some individual politicians have also been playing fast and loose with the law, with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid allegedly exempting his staff from the law via a creative usage of employee titles.
Even as recently as January this decision had Republican Senator Ron Johnson filing lawsuits and complaining about the Affordable Care Act:
“By arranging for me and other members of Congress and their staffs to receive benefits intentionally ruled out by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the administration has exceeded its legal authority.”
Yesterday, the argument over Congress’ Obamacare exemption took on a whole new light when it was revealed that 12,359 Congressional staffers comprised about 98 percent of everyone enrolled in the small business exchanges. In addition, these staffers represented 70 percent of everyone enrolled in private insurance plans in the area. It could be argued that each of the individual 535 Congress men and women are considered an employer because the average of about 21 staffers would make them a small business which meets the conditions of the Affordable Care Act. But I doubt many would accept that argument as legitimate considering its the Federal government paying their salaries and subsidies. Meanwhile, less than 300 actual small businesses have enrolled in the Obamacare exchange in the DC area.