Looking to require U.S. lawmakers to “play by the same rules” with Obamacare, this week U.S. Rep. Daniel Maffei, D-N.Y., introduced legislation that would eliminate taxpayer-funded subsidies for members and their staffs to buy insurance on the health law’s insurance exchanges.
The bill, which is co-sponsored by Reps. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., and John Barrow, D-Ga., would prohibit congressional members from receiving a federal contribution to pay for health premiums bought on Obamacare exchanges. It also would require lawmakers to buy health insurance through their home state’s exchange if they buy a plan through an Obamacare exchange.
“Member of Congress should play by the same rules as the people they represent,” Maffei said in a statement. “That means no taxpayer-funded subsidy to cover the cost of their health insurance and no exemption for Members to get insurance through an exchange that is not available to their constituents.”
Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, moved lawmakers and their staff from getting health coverage through the Federal Employees Benefits Program to health plans available through the health law’s state and federal-run online insurance exchanges.
To help defray expected high costs for premiums, the Office of Personnel Management last year issued a rule that the agency would give members and their staffs premium support. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., argued that move was unlawful and brought a lawsuit against OPM.
A federal judge earlier this week tossed Johnson’s lawsuit, saying he could not challenge the Obamacare provision, citing Article III of the Constitution, according to Politico.
Robert Moffit, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said the new legislation shows opposition to the Obamacare exemption for lawmakers is truly bipartisan.
“All of these efforts have one principle in common: No health insurance subsidy or tax credit should be available to House or Senate members that would not be available to regular Americans,” said Moffit, who serves in Heritage’s center for health policy studies.