Obama throws Capitol Hill a helping hand on ObamaCare
posted at 8:31 am on August 2, 2013 by Erika Johnsen
Well, this is rich. Via Politico:
Lawmakers and staff can breathe easy — their health care tab is not going to soar next year.
The Office of Personnel Management, under heavy pressure from Capitol Hill, will issue a ruling that says the government can continue to make a contribution to the health care premiums of members of Congress and their aides, according to several Hill sources. …
Just Wednesday, POLITICO reported that President Barack Obama told Democratic senators that he was personally involved in finding a solution. …
Obama’s involvement in solving this impasse was unusual, to say the least. But it came after serious griping from both sides of the aisle about the potential of a “brain drain.” The fear, as told by sources in both parties, was that aides would head for more lucrative jobs, spooked by the potential for spiking health premiums.
In a nutshell, Congresspeople have been worried for awhile now about the provision in ObamaCare, inserted by Sen. Chuck Grassley, that requires that both members and their aides must be covered by plans “created” by the law or “offered through an exchange” — in other words, if Congress was going to vote this thing in, then they were going to have to live with it, too. Under the previous system, Congressional workers have had nearly 75 percent of their health insurance premium payments covered by the federal government, but whether or not their employer would continue to subsidize their health care under ObamaCare was still an open question causing lawmakers a lot of angst. Without the assurance of subsidies, Congress was concerned that aides and staffers could get slammed with thousands of dollars in new health insurance costs, and younger aides might flee to other jobs while older staffers might begin to retire.
Republicans have been maintaining that the only solution to this inconvenient little problem is full repeal, but oddly, Democrats are fine with appealing to their good buddy the president to commandeer a fix for this pickle.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., released a statement Thursday night reiterating that staff and lawmakers must sign up for the exchanges.
“Members of Congress and their staffs must enroll in health marketplaces as the Affordable Care Act requires.
“As we continue our work to ensure the smooth implementation of this law and look forward to the start of enrollment on October 1st, we will continue our efforts this August to educate consumers on the law’s provisions and tout the critical benefits already in place for millions of Americans,” she said, with no mention of the deal that OPM is set to announce.
I just don’t understand what the problem is — I thought Democrats simply adored ObamaCare? Why wouldn’t they want to be the first ones to lead by example by paying more for health insurance, as plenty of Americans will shortly be confronted with similar problems? And again… can the president even do that?