The ObamaCare Battle of Capitol Hill

By:  Michael Tennant
The ObamaCare Battle of Capitol Hill

A brutal political fight is playing out on Capitol Hill as members of Congress try to preserve their exemption from part of ObamaCare.

Congress got itself exempted from part of ObamaCare in August, as The New American reported at the time. Now, with some senators trying to undo that exemption, their colleagues are stooping to new lows to ensure that they won’t be forced to pay for their own health insurance.

Under ObamaCare, individuals whose employers do not offer them health insurance must purchase coverage out of their own pockets — albeit with subsidies for those with low incomes — on state exchanges. Under the theory that Congress should have to abide by the same laws it foists on the rest of the country, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) got an amendment added to the healthcare law that requires all members of Congress and their staffs to buy insurance at their own expense through these same exchanges — a major hit to their pocketbooks given that Uncle Sam currently pays for about 75 percent of their insurance premiums and that individual insurance rates are set to skyrocket next year.

As the exchange implementation deadline approached, pampered politicos decided they’d made a mistake in voting for ObamaCare with the Grassley amendment attached. But instead of repealing the law or the amendment, they chose the arguably illegal approach of strong-arming the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) into ruling that the Grassley amendment doesn’t mean what it actually says.

“OPM initially balked at such a ruling,” writes Politico, “but Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid [D-Nev.] — under fire from their rank-and-file lawmakers and staff — pressured President Barack Obama to get personally involved in the matter.”

Given that Congress, with the president’s assent, could slash OPM’s budget or shutter it entirely, it comes as little surprise that the agency knuckled under and ruled that the federal government can indeed continue to subsidize the insurance premiums of congressmen, senators, and their staffs, effectively wiping the Grassley amendment from the books. (Reid later had the audacity to claim that OPM was merely affirming “what the law says”; but if that were the case, there would have been no need for anyone to pressure the office into offering such an interpretation in the first place.)

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Photo of David Vitter speaking against Washington politicians' exemption from ObamaCare

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