President Donald Trump’s threats to stop providing subsidies to health insurers to reduce cost-sharing for low-income people has come under heavy criticism, but if he withdrew subsidies for congressional coverage in the Obamacare exchanges, more members may be willing to come to the bargaining table for health-care reform.
That’s the premise of Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) and the Independent Women’s Voice, a free-market oriented group.
The Affordable Care Act required Congress and staff to enroll in the exchanges, an amendment that Democrats agreed to add to the law at the behest of Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). In 2013, the Obama administration Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a rule to allow congressional enrollees to sign up through the District of Columbia’s small group exchange, even though small group exchanges are normally reserved for companies with fewer than 50 employees and there are more than 12,000 employees in Congress.
The OPM rule also allowed the government to continue making payments to cover most of the cost of the exchange coverage, although private companies are barred from making such payments for ACA exchange coverage.
During the Senate’s deliberation over repealing significant parts of the ACA, Johnson offered an amendment that would have required members of Congress, but not staff, to pay the full cost of their coverage.
Congress needs to be under the same rules as others in the exchanges, Johnson said on a press call. “We’ve got to do this. We’ve got to fix this problem,” he said.
President Trump tweeted July 29 and July 31 that “bailouts” for insurance companies and members of Congress “will end very soon” if a health-care bill isn't approved quickly, and Congress should be “paying what public pays.”
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