Both houses of Congress were not exactly honest on the applications they filed with the District of Columbia’s Health Benefit Exchange Authority. In fact, the signatories who put their names to the applications seemed to make little pretense of providing truthful information. Under D.C. law, only those small businesses that have 50 or fewer employees can participate in the Small Business Exchange. Guess how many people are employed by Congress? And, guess how many employees Congress claims to have?
Congress employs upwards of 20,000 people. But the applications we obtained from the local District of Columbia government through a Freedom of Information request are shockers: the House and Senate claim to have 45 employees each. So that’s a total of 90 balanced against the actual number, which is more in the range of 20,000. Incredibly, the applications also falsely state that the House and Senate are “local/state governments.” The “electronic signature” section of the application includes the following language:
I’ve provided true and correct information to all the questions on this form to the best of my knowledge. I know that if I’m not truthful, there may be a penalty.
The actual names of the signatories, of course, were blacked out by the D.C. Exchange.
I’ve been at Judicial Watch for 16 years and I have seen a lot of government arrogance and corruption, but these documents are near the top of the pile in showing contempt for the rule of law. And I’m sure that they will outrage you and other law-abiding Americans who agonize over filing correct tax forms with the IRS, obtain overpriced and substandard health insurance as mandated by Obamacare, and who follow in good faith the many laws and regulations that govern the nation.
But in Washington, D.C., the political class is accustomed to breaking its own rules and regulations. That’s why Judicial Watch filed a taxpayer lawsuit against the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority on October 15 aimed at preventing congressional figures from participating in the exchange. As it stands now, there are at least 12,359 members of Congress, congressional staffers, their spouses and dependents who now purchase their insurance through the D.C. Small Business Exchange. To put this in perspective, there are only a little over 14,000 participants in total on this D.C. Obamacare Exchange. So, practically speaking, this “Small Business Exchange” is nothing but a front for Congress to obtain insurance for Obamacare outside the law.
Our lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of Kirby Vining, a Washington, D.C., taxpayer, names the Exchange Authority and its Executive Director, Mila Kofman, as defendants. Vining is also a member of Judicial Watch. He worked for the federal government for 35 years before retiring in 2011. He is as outraged as any other Judicial Watch supporter would be at this scandal.
A little background is in order.
The D.C. Council enacted “The Health Benefit Exchange Authority Establishment of 2011” in March 2012. The Council appropriated $77,055,000 in general fund revenue to create, administer and operate the exchange. In simple language, a District taxpayer can sue to prevent the illegal use of public funds, such as improperly allowing Congress to participate in D.C.’s Small Business Exchange.
Here is what our lawsuit states:
“Since November 2013, the Exchange Authority has allowed the U.S. House of Representatives (“the House”) and the U.S. Senate (“the Senate”) (collectively “Congress”) to use the Small Business Exchange to provide health insurance to members of Congress, certain congressional staffers, and their spouses and dependents.”
“Beginning in early November 2013, the Exchange Authority conducted outreach efforts to the House and Senate about Congress’ participation in the Small Business Exchange and provided weekly support sessions to assist members of Congress and staff with enrollment. These outreach efforts, weekly support sessions, and Congress’ participation in the Exchange generally were discussed at a November 13, 2013 meeting of the Executive Board, and on November 20, 2013, Executive Director Kofman testified [starting at 1:46:00] before the Senate’s Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee about Congress’ participation in the Small Business Exchange.”
“When Congress applied to participate in the Small Business Exchange, representatives falsely asserted that the House and the Senate each employ 50 or fewer full-time employees. Specifically, records provided by the Exchange Authority in response to a Freedom of Information Act request show that both the House and the Senate falsely claimed that they each employ only 45 full-time employees.”
“On information and belief, the Executive Board and Executive Director Kofman knew that the House and the Senate each have more than 50 full-time employees and knew or should have known that Congress’ certifications to the contrary were false.”
“At least 12,359 members of Congress, congressional staffers, and their spouses and dependents obtained health insurance through the Small Business Exchange as of February 9, 2014. These 12,359 persons represent approximately 86 percent of the 14,289 persons enrolled in the Small Business Exchange between October 1, 2013 and September 9, 2014.”
We are asking the court, on behalf of Vining, to declare that the House and Senate’s participation in the Small Business Exchange is unlawful. We are also asking the court to enjoin the defendants from continuing to allow the House and Senate to participate in the Small Business Exchange. For more details, be sure to click here. The case should proceed in the local District of Columbia courts over the next few months, and I’ll update as events warranted.
In the meantime, you should take a look at the false applications filed by the House and Senate and use them to ask your elected representatives in Congress what they think of the fraudulent means used to obtain, in contravention of Obamacare, health insurance for them or their colleagues.