Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 9, 2016

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.

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