On Tuesday, Sens. Mike Enzi (WY) and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) (LA) introduced legislation to reinstate the requirement that members of Congress, and their staffs, receive health coverage through ObamaCare exchanges, as well as pay the costs of their premiums. Earlier this month, the federal government issued a regulation issuing an exemption for Congress from the requirement included in the ObamaCare law.
During the debate on ObamaCare, Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA) won approval for an amendment requiring Congress and its staff to enroll for coverage in the health exchanges set up by ObamaCare. This requirement also threatened the ability of the federal government to continue to pick up 75% of the costs of health insurance premiums for Congress, as it currently does.
After close consultation with the White House and Capitol Hill, the Office of Personnel and Management ruled that the federal government could continue to provide Congress with its existing health insurance coverage, forgoing the exchanges or any dramatic increase in out-of-pocket premium payments.
Politico reported that the exemption was driven by fears of a “brain drain” on Capitol Hill, causing aides to leave for other jobs rather than pay more for insurance under ObamaCare.
It is a bit rich to argue that a law forced on all Americans has such potentially negative consequences that members and aides might quit unless they are made exempt. Where do I go to get an exemption?
The Enzi-Vitter bill would reverse the OPM exemption.
Sen. Enzi has also endorsed efforts to defund ObamaCare through the government’s pending continuing resolution for spending. These twin efforts are likely related to an unexpected challenge from his right for the Republican nomination for Senate next year. Liz Cheney, daughter of Dick Cheney, is challenging the three-term Senator for his alleged “going-along-to-get-along” attitude in Congress.
Putting all members of Congress and staff into ObamaCare exchanges is certainly not “going along to get along.”