Obamacare: Ending Special Treatment for Congress
Robert Moffit /
Senator David Vitter (R–LA) has just introduced an amendment to the Energy Efficiency Act, soon scheduled for Senate floor action, that would require the President and all political appointees, as well as Congress and staff, to get health insurance on the exchanges under the same conditions as every other American.
No subsidy or tax credit would be available to a Member of Congress or staffer that would not be available to any other American.
Congress voted to take itself out of the popular and successful Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and require Members and staff to get their health coverage through the exchange program this year. Realizing the mess they created for themselves, congressional leaders quietly got the Obama Administration to give them special taxpayer subsidies—which are not available to any other American—to offset their health insurance costs. The problem: Neither current nor previous law provides authorization for any such subsidies.
On a separate track, Senator Ron Johnson (R–WI) filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Administration’s provision of these special subsidies. As Heritage legal fellow Andrew Kloster explains: “The recent [Office of Personnel Management] final rule to provide subsidies to Members of Congress and their staff contradicts the plain language of both the FEHB Program statute and Obamacare.… Members of Congress and their staff can and should sue if and when they are injured by this unlawful scheme.”
After Senator Johnson spoke on a panel at The Heritage Foundation, 38 other prominent House and Senate conservatives joined in to support Senator Johnson’s case by filing an amicus brief.
These efforts to end the double dealing are now becoming bipartisan. Georgia Senate Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn released a campaign ad highlighting her view on the special subsidy: “No one in Congress should get a subsidy to pay for their own health care.” Nunn is steadfast on the issue, enduring criticism from fellow Democrats that she is “adopting GOP talking points” and “distanc[ing] herself from Mr. Obama on his health care law.”
Unfair and unlawful, the Administration’s case in the court of public opinion just got tougher—no matter what happens on the Senate floor or in the federal courts.