Republicans, though, have muddled the issue with misleading rhetoric. The GOP line is that OPM and Vitters’ opponents are trying to “exempt Congress from Obamacare.” This is nonsensical. Obamacare specially targeted Congressional staff with a punitive rule, and so efforts to soften that unique punishment can’t honestly be called “exemptions.”
It’s probably unfair to punish Hill staff by barring an employer contribution—no other employer is barred from contributing to its employees’ premiums. But that doesn’t mean OPM has the right to unilaterally change the law.
And in one sense, Vitter is battling against special treatment for Congress — not special access to health care, but special access to power for the redress of grievances: Congress isn’t the only group being hurt by Obamacare, but Congress gets special access to get its problems fixed.
If you just got your hours trimmed because of the employer mandate, Harry Reid isn’t working behind closed doors for you. If you used your Health Savings Account to buy over-the-counter medicine for your children until Obamacare banned this, you probably didn’t get a secret meeting with Obama’s chief of staff on the matter. If Obamacare just outlawed your low-premium catastrophic health care plan, OPM isn’t going to bend the rules for you.