For seven years, Republican candidates running for every office from president to dogcatcher campaigned on the need to repeal and replace Obamacare.
The spectacular collapse of the repeal effort in the Senate revealed that these promises were, at least for some senators, hollow.
As disappointing as the effort in the Senate was to witness, Congress cannot simply walk away from the promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. One surefire way to restart the repeal effort is simple: Make Congress live under Obamacare.
The actual text of Obamacare cancels the congressional health plans utilized by members of Congress and refers members to the Obamacare exchanges for their insurance needs.
The idea was that members should eat their own cooking. No special subsidies were provided. Indeed, traditional employer contributions are prohibited for anyone enrolled in an exchange.
However, in 2013, after consultation with congressional leaders, the Obama administration issued a legally dubious administrative rule that put Congress onto the D.C. small business exchange (which is meant for businesses with less than 50 employees) and conferred upon members a generous taxpayer subsidy.
This is contrary to the text of Obamacare and reeks of insider favoritism. The arrangement has protected Congress from the high cost of Obamacare while millions of Americans continue to struggle under the financial burdens of the law.
Currently, there are two sets of health care laws in the United States: one for the taxpayers, and one for the insider class.
Under current practice, the American people alone are expected to shoulder the costs of health care. Members of Congress are shielded from the costs of their own law by placing—contrary to law—the burden of subsidizing congressional insurance plans on the backs of taxpayers.
Requiring Congress to experience the burden of Obamacare as the rest of America has would provide the greatest incentive to quickly return to the effort to repeal this failed law.
Obamacare continues to crumble. Just last month, it was reported that over 800,000 Americans will lose their current coverage in 2018 due to health care companies pulling out of the exchanges.
Some counties only have one insurance provider in their exchange, wholly eliminating the potential for competition in the market to reduce prices. And, in some areas, there is no insurance provider participating in the exchanges at all.
Health care premiums are rising, and soaring deductibles have put affordable health insurance out of reach for many middle-class Americans.
Our constituents deserve meaningful reform that lowers premiums and expands care options. Yet, Congress has failed to deliver on these promises, all while continuing to reap unlawful taxpayer subsidies.
Everyday Americans do not have the same luxury of simply not complying with the law.
President Donald Trump can singlehandedly put an end to these illegal subsidies. Earlier this year, I sent a letter to the president explaining that blowing the whistle on this special deal will make members of Congress better understand the burdens of Obamacare and incentivize them to get to work on a good repeal and replace plan.
While I am encouraged that the president has indicated that revoking the 2013 rule is a negotiating option that remains on the table, I believe that these illegal subsidies should be eliminated immediately.
This is why I have submitted an amendment to the House’s upcoming spending bills that would defund the Obama administration’s special rule for Congress.
The American people should demand that members of Congress honor their promises to repeal Obamacare and insist that they live under the same laws as the rest of the people.