Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 9, 2015

Enzi, Vitter Would Force Congress, Obama to Pay for Health Care

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Vitter, along with a fellow Republican, has introduced legislation designed to make members, their staffers and others pay out of pocket for the full cost of their health care in the exchanges set up by Obamacare.  (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans David Vitter of Louisiana and Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming introduced legislation Tuesday that would make members, political appointees, the president and the vice president pay out of pocket for the full cost of their health care through exchanges set up by Obamacare.

“If Obamacare is good enough for the American people, it should be good enough for Congress, the President and Vice President, and other policy makers in Washington,” Enzi said in a statement. “I’ve said from the beginning that this law wouldn’t work and we see that proof daily with the endless exemptions, delays, and subsidies being authorized by the President. There’s no excuse for trying to let certain individuals and businesses off the hook when the American people are already paying the price of bad policy.”

The bill responds to an administrative fix to the health law implemented by the Office of Personnel Management and would require all Congressional staff members — not just some — to enter an exchange. Vitter’s and Enzi’s offices said in a press release that their bill would prohibit staffers “from receiving any contribution greater than what they would receive if they were not employed by a congressional office,” which is essentially the fix OPM made for staff.

More details on the bill, as provided by the two Republicans’ offices, follows.

Per their release, the legislation:

  • Clarifies that members do not have the authority to define “official staff” and can thereby not exempt any of their staff from going into the exchange (current Senate rules and the OPM proposal gives discretion to the individual offices).
  • Clarifies that Members of Congress, all staff, President, Vice President, and political appointees are no longer eligible for Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP) and must go into the exchange.
  • Prohibits Members, political appointees, President and Vice President from receiving tax-payer funded contributions in the form of subsidies, tax credits, or employer contribution to purchase insurance on the exchange- as in most of these cases they earn well above the maximum income ($43,000 individual/$92,000 family) and would otherwise be ineligible for subsidies or tax credits as defined in the statute.

Comments (61)

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  1. istme

    Aug. 27, 2013
    12:46 p.m.

    well… it’s about time someone used common sense!

  2. Layla

    Aug. 27, 2013
    1:10 p.m.

    We wouldn’t have a healthcare crisis if these rules had been followed from the beginning. NO ONE in the government should be exempt from the laws which govern the people.

    • Jesse4

      Aug. 27, 2013
      4:16 p.m.

      They weren’t exempted from the laws which govern the people.
      They were exempted from a worthless provision put in the ACA by a Republican as a political stunt that only applied to Congressmen and their staff.

  3. Jesse4

    Aug. 27, 2013
    4:24 p.m.

    So, Republicans want to take away health benefits from Congressional staff in order to show how bad the law is that would have let them keep their benefits.
    Well, people are pretty stupid, but I don’t know if very many non-conservatives are stupid enough to fall for that silly little stunt.

  4. JFP

    Aug. 27, 2013
    4:30 p.m.

    Companies across the country are looking at their balance sheets and realizing that their only option to stay in the black under Obamacare is to pay the fines and dump their employees on the exchanges. Why should Congress and the Executive Branch, which are running deep in the red, be any different? Hypocrites!!

    • headhunter56

      Aug. 27, 2013
      7 p.m.

      Wonder how much we could get if we were to repossess DC and just sell it! Then let the states take care of themselves?

      • sphenoid

        Aug. 27, 2013
        7:05 p.m.

        The states need the Union. I’d rather have the federal government than those crazy Texans try to take over.

        • headhunter56

          Aug. 27, 2013
          7:07 p.m.

          Are you saying you approve of DC?

  5. Michael

    Aug. 27, 2013
    8:19 p.m.

    Why only healthcare, congress exempts itself from nearly every law passed. I’d support this if it were written to opt congress into EVERY law that the rest of us have to follow. This is just a feel-good show vote.

    Besides, 90% of congress critters are now rich BECAUSE they’re exempt from insider trading laws and magically end up richer than they had been in their entire lives by the time they finish with their “public service”. Start with the root of the evil before passing feel-good but meaningless new rules like this.

    You’ll find very quickly this same group will NEVER EVER support opting congress into ALL the laws the rest of us live by. Vitter just wants to get some points because his constituents don’t like Obama Care.

  6. parenthetical

    Aug. 28, 2013
    11:14 a.m.

    Hello, authors — Could you please cite for this stated current ability to “exempt” staff from the exchanges by defining them as official staff? I was not aware of any such exemption, thanks to the Grassley amendment. I am, however, aware of a continued conservative effort to take the same employer contribution that existed well before Obamacare and mischaracterize it as some sort of “exemption” or new part of Obamacare.

    Also, given how many Americans receive some sort of employer contribution toward health insurance, would you please ask the sponsors why the people serving in Congress should be any different? That’s not insisting on equal footing, that’s specifying worse conditions for a small group of people because you don’t like their employer and the larger law. That might be a lot of things, but it doesn’t strike me as mature reasoning or good policy.

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