No Obamacare for Obama, his family, his staff, the vice president, the vice president’s staff, the rest of the administration, Nancy Pelosi, Nancy Pelosi’s staff, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Reid’s staff, all other House and Senate leaders and their staff, all committee members and their staff… the list goes on
Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
A loophole written into the final healthcare reform bill passed on Sunday and signed into law by Obama yesterday, exempts Washington insiders and committee staffers from the mandate that now requires every American to purchase health insurance.
Members of Congress and their office staffers will have to buy insurance through the state-run exchanges created under the bill. However, those working for congressional committees or for party leaders in the House and Senate are excluded.
…page 158 of the bill defines “congressional staff” narrowly, as “employees employed by the official office of a member of congress, whether in the district office or in Washington.”This means that committee staffers, those most intimately involved with drafting the legislation, have effectively opted themselves out of one of its key requirements!
The Congressional Research Service believes a court could rule that the legislation “would exclude professional committee staff, joint committee staff, some shared staff, as well as potentially those staff employed by leadership offices.”
If that’s so, staffers who work for Nancy Pelosi in her capacity as representative from California would go into the exchange program, while staffers who work for her in her capacity as speaker would stay on the government’s plan. Other Capitol employees, like those who work for the Clerk of the House or the House Historian, would be similarly exempted.
While declaring that rank-and-file House and Senate staff will no longer benefit from the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan (FEHBP) and must purchase their cover from restricted federal health insurance pools, along with the rest of the surfs, the Washington elite have ensured they will not have to participate.
“Because they were more familiar with the contents of the law than anyone in the country, it says a lot that they carved out their own special loophole.” a Washington Times editorial states.
Of course, it goes without saying that the president, vice president, cabinet members and top White House staff are also exempted from the mandate to buy coverage through the exchanges.
Republican Senators Coburn and Grassley, who both twice filed amendments last year to close the loophole, have accused the Senate leadership Democrats of purposely exempting upper-level staffers from the overhaul.
“The American people will be appalled to learn the health care bill exempts leadership and committee staff. This special deal for unelected staff underscores everything the public detests about the arrogance of power in Washington,” Coburn said. “I tried to fix this inequity along with senators Grassley, Burr and Vitter, but Majority Leader [Harry] Reid obstructed our effort.”
Grassley reiterated the sentiments in his own statement, declaring “The new health care law creates two double standards. The congressional staff who wrote the new law exempted themselves from the new health care system, while other staff will be in it.”
“And, President Obama himself will not live under Obama health care. The message to grassroots America is that it’s good enough for you, but not for us.” the Senator added.
Grassley has now penned a third amendment to force all congressional staffers, as well as the Washington elite, to be included under the mandate.
The details highlight the hollow ring of Obama’s promises on health care, given that he frequently declared that the new legislation would provide everyday Americans with the same kind of health insurance as Congress.
In his speech on the eve of the vote, last Saturday, before the House Democratic Congress, Obama lauded the health care legislation, declaring that a major advantage would be that “people will have choice and competition just like members of Congress have choice and competition.”
Obama’s astounding hypocrisy continued into yesterday’s signing ceremony, where he commented that Americans will be “part of a big pool, just like federal employees are part of a big pool. They’ll have the same choice of private health insurance that members of Congress get for themselves.”
All the while, the president cannot have been unaware that the loophole within the bill exempts high ranking insiders from having to share the same pool as the rest of America.
“…the American people will have a public pool; the executive branch and congressional staffers kept their country-club pool private.” The Washington Times comments.
“Meanwhile, we await Mr. Obama’s explanation why if his historic health care law is so great for America, it’s not good enough for him and his family.”
This monster health care bill, the final version of which no one has yet read in its entirety, is sure to throw up many more issues that make this one look like a minor quibble. However, it is already clear at this early stage that the bill revolves around special interests and contains special exemptions for those who recognised the fact at it’s inception.
This is another instance of big government elitists dictating measures to the American people on behalf of K Street corporate lobbyists while excluding themselves from the aftereffects.