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Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

The Duplicity of Obama and the Political Class: Congress’s Exemption from ObamaCare

About two weeks ago, on the basis of no legal authority  to create a special exemption for themselves from ObamaCare health coverage that everybody else is mandated to buy, Obama at the urgent request of Democrats in the House and Senate set in motion just such a special exemption by presidential fiat.
ObamaCare (the Affordable Care Act[ ACA]) requires Members of Congress and their staffs to join its insurance exchanges, in order to understand what they are imposing on their constituents. The idea was implemented by Iowa’s Senator, Chuck Grassley who proposed the original amendment in 2009 which the Finance Committee unanimously adopted.
Harry Reid revised the Grassley amendment when the infamous ObamaCare bill that no one had read was rammed through the House on Christmas Eve. But, he didn’t include language concerning the premium contributions the government provides for its employees. Whether it was intentional or not, the statute as written indicated that anybody earning $174,000/year didn’t deserve an exchange subsidy and that persons would not get a subsidy merely because he/she worked in Congress
Thus, the statute meant that about 11,000 Members and Congressional staff would lose the high-end coverage that they now had as part of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). Instead, they would get the lower quality low choice “Medicaid Plus” of the exchanges. The Members annual salary of $174,000 and their  better paid aides also wouldn’t qualify for ObamaCare subsidies. That meant they would need to spend thousands of dollars a year in out-of-pocket insurance costs. So, Obama told Democrats in a closed-door meeting that he would personally deal with the issue.  As a result, the White House suspended the law and created a double standard. The office of Personnel Management (OPM) that oversees federal benefits will release regulatory details that Congress will receive extra payments based on the FEHBP defined contribution formula, which covers about 75% of the cost of the average insurance plan. For 2013, that’s about $4900 for individuals and $10,000 for families. This carveout for Congress creates a two-tier exchange system, one for the great unwashed, like us,  and another for the political class. This latest move is also illegal. OPM has no authority to pay for insurance plans that lack FEHBP contracts. And the ACA does not allow either exchange contributions or a unilateral rise in congressional pay in return for less overall compensation. Those things must be in appropriations bills passed by Congress and signed by the president.
Once more, Obama is rewriting the law unilaterally as he did by suspending ObamaCare’s employer mandate and the individual out-of-pocket cap for a year. Once more, the IMPERIAL PRESIDENT MAKES AND BREAKS LAWS AS HE SEES FIT. I wonder how those who voted for him in 2012 feel about being second class ObamaCare recipients.

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