In case you haven't been following the story, Congressional offices on the Right and Left have been doing some serious hand-wringing about ObamaCare's effects on their personal health insurance plans. They were, like the rest of America, right to be afraid. Specifically, Hill staff's fears were founded in an amendment to ObamaCare, brilliantly added by Sen. Chuck Grassley, that required Congress to enroll in a plan "created" by the law or "offered through an exchange."
Well, worry no longer, Members of Congress. President Obama has stepped in to save the day. And here are three reasons this makes me so mad:
1. It's just plain wrong for our legislators – many of whom voted for ObamaCare – to get a special exemption from a law that the rest of the American people can't escape. Where is my exemption?
I feel this personally. I live in DC and work for a nonprofit (IWF, duh), and I can't imagine my pay is all that different from people on the Hill. My benefits, to say the least, are not nearly as cushy. Congress and their staff are part of the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, and their employer makes a huge contribution (paying about 75 percent of their premiums). I met my $2700 deductible this year on a plan I pay for myself, with post-tax money.
Now, if nothing changes, people like me will be forced into the DC exchange next year. Forced. Unless I want to break the law and go uninsured (or, as many freedom-loving friends have pointed out, I could move to Virginia). See, the DC Council doesn't want to allow the sale or purchase of insurance outside of the exchange, so little people like me have to come to them. Little, young, healthy people like me. I know I'm going to get hit with #RateShock; my insurer already sent me a letter telling me basically to take a seat before opening my new rate this fall.
My only hope for the DC exchange was that maybe, just maybe Members of Congress and their staff might have to join and be exposed to the full cost of ObamaCare. If they could see my plight (and the plight of millions of Americans) first-hand, they might realize their grave mistake in passing ObamaCare, and this would fuel the fire for repeal of this awful law.
2. They didn't even vote on this.
If Congress is going to get a special exemption, at least make them take a vote on it. The letter of the law – Sen. Grassley's amendment – requires one thing, but President Obama is rewriting the law by regulatory fiat (yet again). This is lawlessness.
This is not the first time, or the second time, or the third time… that the Obama Administration has made serious regulatory changes to the way this law will work. Add to those illegal, authoritarian changes the 20,000+ pages of other regulations… And you'll see this is not the law Congress passed.
And now what is the point of trying to negotiate over ObamaCare in Congress? Conservative members could have used this "fix" for Congress as a bargaining chip to ask for something else, like a repeal or delay of the individual mandate, a repeal or delay of the IPAB, or any other number of legislative changes. But why should liberals worry about bargaining when the President can simply rewrite the law however they please?
3. Hello, it's Friday. How many weekends and holidays have washed down a multitude of bad ObamaCare headlines? Do they really think the American people will just snooze through this?
When the Obama Administration admitted that they needed to delay the employer mandate for a year, it was July 3 (right before July 4). They have a record of Friday news dumps.
Do they really think Americans are just going to head to the weekend barbeque and ignore the fact that our elected officials do not have to follow the same law that we do? This is outrageous.
My only hope is that this headline – "Congress Exempted from Health Law" – will be the last straw. What country is this?