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Congress Exempted from ObamaCare?

congress-healthcareBen Domenech notes that, while the healthcare bill that now awaits President Obama’s signature explicitly states that Members of Congress and their staff are covered under its provisions, there seems to be a carveout for those who serve on committee or leadership staff.

It’s not uncommon for Congress to exempt itself from laws it passes.  And, quite often, critics are right to point out this double standard.  In this case, however, it seems more than a little strained.

Members of Congress, their personal staff, committee staff, and leadership staff are all, like most of us, covered by health insurance by their employer.  It just so happens that their employer is we, the taxpayer.   But that’s true of members of the Armed Forces, civil servants, the Executive Office of the President, federal judges, and so forth and so on.   So, while I oppose the health insurance mandate in principle, these people would be exempt in the same way that my wife and I are currently exempt: Because our employers provide coverage.

Aside from the mandate, I’m not sure what parts of ObamaCare would impact Members and staff.  Federal plans already cover people regardless of preexisting conditions; they have for as long as I can remember.  Presumably, they’re not going to give up “free” government-provided insurance to go on the newly created Exchanges.  Maybe they’d fall under the Cadillac Plan penalty?

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. alkali says:

    Aside from the mandate, I’m not sure what parts of ObamaCare would impact Members and staff. Federal plans already cover people regardless of preexisting conditions; they have for as long as I can remember. Presumably, they’re not going to give up “free” government-provided insurance to go on the newly created Exchanges.

    As I understand it:

    Right now, members of Congress and their office staff have insurance through the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (“FEHBP”), which offers several different insurance plans (click through to see). The insurance “exchanges” in each state to be created by HCR are modeled after the FEHBP. After HCR becomes law, members of Congress and their office staff will only be able to obtain insurance plans offered through the exchanges. It doesn’t say that they have to pay for the plan they choose — presumably that cost will be covered by the federal government, but I don’t know for sure.

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  2. MM says:

    In this case, however, it seems more than a little strained

    That’s OK. Domenech will plagiarize someone else’s much better argument by tomorrow.

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  3. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    One thing that I haven’t seen addressed during the health care “reform” debate is the analogy to a program referred to as ERISA. My understanding is that ERISA was the federal government’s attempt to “reform” problems stemming from employer-provided pensions. Lo and behold, it seems to me that employer-provided pensions have largely “done come and gone” in the aftermath of ERISA.

    So as to your employer-provided health care benefits, you go ahead and enjoy them….while they still last.

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  4. john personna says:

    I think, 11B40, that you should read about the origins of the 401K, and how companies discovered that supporting such plans could reduce their long-term commitments.

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  5. mpw280 says:

    All government employees should have to pay the cadillac health care tax just like everyone else, or the government should dump their own coverage and make it mandatory that all government employees enjoy the system being shoved up our collective a$$e$.
    mpw

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  6. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Wait until all the little tidbits that were included in this mess come to light. I am sure in the 2000 plus pages of this bill is hidden some real distasteful items. I trust the press will make sure the citizens are well aware of all these little items. Not.

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  7. flounder says:

    Is Ben Domenech that guy who plagiarized other people’s movie reviews?
    So why would you give credence or credibilty to a known plagiarizer? Maybe you should find out what Jayson Blair thinks of this bill.
    The thing that is destroying our media institutions is that there is absolutely no accountability for journalistic malfeasance. Giving people who are plagiarists anything but your contempt means you are a peddler of “fruit of a poisoned tree”.

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  8. 11B40 says:

    Greetings: especially “john personna”

    I’m afraid that I’m missing your point.

    Perhaps, I was a bit obtuse in making mine. What I was trying to convey was that the government’s interest in protecting employee rights to their pensions largely has resulted in the disappearance of pension plans of the 20th century style.

    I’m a 401K abuser myself and I don’t have any real argument against them expect that that the 20th century style pension seems to me to be a better deal based on no need for employee contribution.

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