WSJ Rips New Obamacare Exemption for Congress

Thursday, 08 Aug 2013 01:31 PM

By Dan Weil

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The administration's new rules that allow members of Congress and their staffs to escape the healthcare exchanges under Obamacare represent a double standard, according to a Wall Street Journal editorial.

It boils down to "illegal dispensations for the ruling class, different rules for the hoi polloi," the Journal said Thursday.

ObamaCare: You Can Win With The Facts

Obamacare stipulates that "the only health plans that the federal government may make available" to Congress are the ones that are part of the law's insurance exchanges.

But that requirement set off complaints among members and their aides, "because they won't qualify for Obamacare subsidies and they'll lose employer contributions they now receive under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP)," the Journal said.

The Journal criticized President Barack Obama for personally instructing the Office of Personnel Management to retain the congressional benefits.

"The eat-your-own-cooking provision begins with the phrase 'Notwithstanding any other provision of law.' The feds now interpret that clause as a loophole to mean that the Affordable Care Act did not change the 1959 law that created the FEHBP."

That means congressional employees can remain enrolled in the FEHBP at the same time that they use Obamacare exchanges.

"The feds then 'clarify' — their euphemism — that the regulatory meaning of health benefits in the FEHBP can be Obamacare plans. Voila, taxpayers will continue to chip in $4,900 for individual and $10,000 for family coverage," the editorial continued.

The lawmakers and their aides will still have to use the exchanges, as required by law, but only because it would have been "too explosive politically" not to, the Journal said.

The Journal said Congress would have done better to create a law offering its workers a raise to make up for the loss of government benefits and subsidies.

Editor's Note: Should ObamaCare Be Repealed? Vote in Urgent National Poll

"But that would mean an ugly political fight that voters might notice. It's so much easier to slip through this political fix in August when Congress is out of session and the press corps can't wait to hit the beach," the newspaper said.




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