Benefits

WSJ, HEALTH REFORM: Congress’s ObamaCare Exemption

The President intervenes to give Members and staff a break.

August 5, 2013 | Wall Street Journal – To adapt H.L. Mencken, nobody ever went broke underestimating the cynicism and self-dealing of the American political class. Witness their ad-libbed decision, at the 11th hour and on the basis of no legal authority, to create a special exemption for themselves from the ObamaCare health coverage that everybody else is mandated to buy.

The Affordable Care Act requires Members of Congress and their staffs to participate in its insurance exchanges, in order to gain first-hand experience with what they’re about to impose on their constituents. Harry Truman enrolled as the first Medicare beneficiary in 1965, and why shouldn’t the Members live under the same laws they pass for the rest of the country?

RELATED STORY: “WASH: Lawmakers get 24/7 Access To Doctor for $503 per year — i.e. concierge medicine anyone?”

That was the idea when Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley proposed the original good-enough-for-thee, good-enough-for-me amendment in 2009, and the Finance Committee unanimously adopted his rule. Declared Chairman Max Baucus, “I’m very gratified that you have so much confidence in our program that you’re going to be able to purchase the new program yourself and I’m confident too that the system will work very well.”

Harry Reid revised the Grassley amendment when he rammed through his infamous ObamaCare bill that no one had read for a vote on Christmas eve. But he neglected to include language about what would happen to the premium contributions that the government makes for its employees. Whether it was intentional or not, the fairest reading of the statute as written is that if Democrats thought somebody earning $174,000 didn’t deserve an exchange subsidy, then this person doesn’t get a subsidy merely because he happens to work in Congress.

But the statute means that about 11,000 Members and Congressional staff will lose the generous coverage they now have as part of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). Instead they will get the lower-quality, low-choice “Medicaid Plus” of the exchanges. The Members—annual salary: $174,000—and their better paid aides also wouldn’t qualify for ObamaCare subsidies. That means they could be exposed to thousands of dollars a year in out-of-pocket insurance costs.

The result was a full wig out on Capitol Hill, with Members of both parties fretting about “brain drain” as staff face higher health-care costs. Democrats in particular begged the White House for help, claiming the Reid language was merely an unintentional mistake. President Obama told Democrats in a closed-door meeting last week that he would personally moonlight as HR manager and resolve the issue.

CONTINUE READING FULL STORY …

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324635904578644202946287548.html

1 reply »

  1. Had Republicans fought for **EQUAL TAX TREATMENT FOR ALL HEALTH INSURANCE PURCHASES FOR ALL AMERICANS**, they could have “won” something.

    HARRY REID gave the Republicans the ULTIMATE EXCUSE to shut down our government when he carved out the ****Congressional AFTER-TAX-DOLLAR Exemption For Purchases On The Obamacare Exchanges***.

    This “Congressional AFTER-TAX-DOLLAR Exemption” can be explained in one minute and 30 seconds.

    Congress gets to buy on the Obamacare exchanges with “BEFORE-TAX-DOLLARS”, while YOU don’t……

    In the 25% tax bracket, a person needs to earn $6,667 annually in BEFORE-TAX-DOLLARS just to pay $5,000 annually in AFTER-TAX-DOLLARS for private health insurance. On a monthly basis, this person must earn $556 every month in order to pay the $416 monthly health insurance bill, a never-ending $140 per month income tax penalty.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7LGTE40JTQ ( or Google you tube video # c7LGTE40JTQ )

    All Americans who buy their own health insurance should demand the right to buy that insurance with “BEFORE-TAX-DOLLARS”, just as businesses and Congress do, rather than pay forever the monthly “AFTER-TAX-DOLLAR” income tax “penalty” which businesses and Congress do not have to pay.

    I wrote my Senator Harry Reid 3 times in 3 years on this issue. He failed to correct the unfairness of “AFTER-TAX-DOLLAR” purchases of health insurance for ALL Americans, rather than fix it just for congressional employees buying on the Obamacare exchanges .

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